Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tonpa Shenrab (Founder of Bon)

སྟོན་པ་གཤེན་རབ། བོན་ལུགས་སྲོལ་གཏོད་པ། 敦巴辛绕传记(苯教开创人)
(item no. 31207)
Origin Location Tibet
Lineages Bon
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Tonpa Shenrab Miwo (ston pa g.shen rab mi wo) the founder of the Yungdrung Bon religion 8,000 years ago in the land of Tajik to the west of Tibet.

This composition of Tonpa Shenrab belongs to a set depicting the four most important gods of the Yungdrung Bon religion. They are known as the Four Transcendent Lords: Satrig Ersang, Zangpo Bumtri, Shenlha Okar and Tonpa Shenrab. Each of these four when appearing together in portable painting or murals is surrounded by two hundred and fifty enlightened ones. All together they are known as the one thousand enlightened ones of this age. The two hundred and fifty that surround Satrig Ersang are all female. The figures in the other three compositions are all male.

The life story of Tonpa Shenrab along with the recounting of his previous lives are found in three principal texts: the first, and considered the oldest, is the Dodu (Wylie: mdo 'dus) in one volume and twenty-four chapters. Second is the Zermig (gzer mig) in two volumes and eighteen chapters discovered in the 10th century, followed by the Zije (Wylie: gzi brjid) comprised of twelve volumes and sixty-one chapters discovered in the 14th century by Tulku Loden Nyingpo. The last two texts belong to the Revealed Treasure tradition (Tib.: ter ma) of the Bon religion.

Jeff Watt 2-2014

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection: Tamashige Tibet Collection
Bon: Tonpa Shenrab Main Page
Bon Deity: Four Transcendent Lords Main Page
Bon Deity: Four Transcendent Lords (Set 13)