Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tsongkapa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 24170)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male


Interpretation / Description

Lord Tsongkapa, Lobzang Dragpa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This composition is from a fifteen painting set and is counted as number #6, right third.

Tsongkapa Biographical Details

"From the heart of the Lord of the hundred gods of Tushita, on the peak of a cloud, bright white like a mound of fresh yogurt, Lord of Dharma, Omniscient Lobzang Dragpa, together with sons; please come here." (Gelugpa liturgical verse).

The standard set of paintings depicting the life story of Je Tsongkapa, designed in the early 18th century by Jamyang Shepa (1648-1721/1722), has fifteen individual compositions. There are several iconographic systems based on explanatory texts laying out the life of Tsongkapa chronologically accompanied by number references. Short inscriptions and the sequential number are often found with each painting following the narrative vignette.

There are two main compositional formats for the sets of paintings. The first format [1] is symmetrical with Tsongkapa depicted at the center of each composition. The second format [2] is asymmetrical with Tsongkapa appearing at the right or left side of the composition. The majority of compositions follow the symmetrical format. This format is also based on the Jamyang Shepa textual explanation. In the 18th century a set of wood blocks were carved making it possible to create large numbers of block print images on paper, cloth or silk.

Jeff Watt 8-2016

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