Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Milarepa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 30508)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Karma (Kagyu) and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Lay Person

Gender: Male

TBRC: P1853

Interpretation / Description

Milarepa: the great poet yogi of Tibet surrounded by figures and landscape which include two life story vignettes.

The yogi Milarepa, clad in white cotton, sits at the center of the composition with his right hand cupped to his ear in a gesture of singing. His body is discoloured from the diet of only green nettles. Directly behind are three figures, Rechungpa also clad in white holds his right hand to the ear and the left supports a staff topped by an ornate conical white hat adorned with a sun and moon. In front is the monk Gampopa, holding a book, wearing a red meditation belt, and a large fan-like hat. Another figure, dark in complexion stands in front with his back facing the viewer.

At the upper left are the magical apparitions of Tseringma conjured forth to test Milarepa in meditations.The mountain goddess Tseringma is depicted as a beautiful woman seated with her tiger in front of the Milarepa.

At the top right is Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja, blue in colour, with three faces and six hands, embracing a consort. At the bottom left is Vajra Dakini, blue in colour, with one face and two hands, surrounded by a circle of orange and red fire.

The two deity figures, top right and bottom left, do not relate to a narrative in the composition but rather relate to an iconographic program established for the entire set of paintings. Each painting in the series would then have three subjects, a primary with the figure of Milarepa in this case and the two minor subjects being the two smaller deity figures. The scenes immediately surrounding Milarepa involve three narratives that pertain directly to the life story of Milarepa. The first and larger of the narratives, in terms of space used in the composition, is the story of Tseringma first meeting the yogi Milarepa. The second narrative is of the deer hunter meeting Milarepa and the third and final narrative is the depiction of the two main students of Milarepa - Rechungpa and Gampopa. The first two are continuous narrative in style and the last is static.

Jeff Watt 12-2013

Secondary Images
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