Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tsongkapa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 32926)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground: Textile Image, Applique
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: P64

Interpretation / Description

Lord Tsongkapa, Lobzang Dragpa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa School as an applique textile with brocade surrounding mounts.

Tsongkapa Biographical Details

In the appearance of a monastic scholar with a yellow pandita hat and the orange and yellow patchwork robes of a fully ordained monk he performs with both hands the gesture of Dharma teaching at the heart while holding the stems of two lotus flowers blossoming at both ears supporting on the right a wisdom sword and at the left a book. With the two legs folded in vajra posture he sits upon a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat surrounded by an ornate nimbus and halo atop a throne bench. At the front is a low table with incense, a water flask, jewels, a mirror, conch shell and a vase with a pink lotus flower.

At the top left and right sides are buddha figures with Amitabha the likely identification for the figure on the lefts side and Shakyamuni Buddha for the figure on the right side.

On the lower middle portion of the brocade mount is a yellow cartouche with embroidered Tibetan lettering. The verse is a four line praise of the teacher Tsongkapa comparing him with the bodhisattva Manjushri. Specifically mentioned are the sword, orange colour and saffron robes and blue hair hidden by the yellow pandita hat.

Because of the attention given to the embroidered cartouche it is possible that this textile composition is part of a five piece set depicting the Five Forms of Tsongkapa based on the visionary experiences of Kedrub Geleg Palzang [1385-1438. TBRC P55] a principal student of Lobzang Dragpa.

Jeff Watt [added 4-2022]

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