Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 42)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Sakya
Size 88.90x69.85cm (35x27.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Raised Gold, Red Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.2.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: P1056

Interpretation / Description

Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen Pal Zangpo (1182-1251): the Sixth Throne holder of Sakya.

Sa kya pan di ta kun ga gyal tsen Biographical Details

In a perfect pose similar to a buddha he performs the Dharma Teaching mudra (gesture) with the two hands placed at the heart while holding the stems of two utpala flowers blossoming to the sides supporting the sword of wisdom and the Prajnaparamita book. Fully attired in the robes of an ordained monk, having proven worthy, he wears the hat of a pandita. Within the ornate spheres of a nimbus and aureola he sits above a variously coloured lotus blossom atop a Dharma Teaching throne. At the front a small table supports a black begging bowl, cup and gold water flask.

At the top center the primordial buddha Vajradhara holds a vajra and bell crossed at the heart; wearing jewels and silk garments. At the right is the female goddess Nairatmya holding upraised a curved knife in the right hand and a skullcup in the lap. Below that is the mahasiddha Kanhapa (Krishna) with the right hand in the mudra of blessing and holding a skullcup in the left. The wrathful bodhisattva Vajrapani with one face and two hands holds aloft a vajra in the right and performs a wrathful gesture with the left; while in a standing posture. The pandita and mahasiddha Gayadhara touches the seat with the right hand and holds a book in the left.

Descending at the left - the mahasiddha Virupa performs the Dharma Teaching mudra with the two hands at the heart. Mahasiddha Damarupa holds a damaru drum in the right hand and a skullcup in the left which rests on the upraised knee. The wrathful tutelary deity Hevajra with eight faces and sixteen hands, stands in a dancing posture surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness. Seton Kunrig with the right hand in the gesture of blessing holds a book in the left.

Along the bottom are three wrathful protectors. At the center is Panjarnata Mahakala, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup to the heart; supporting a horizontal stick across the forearms. At the right is a form of the wrathful female protector Shri Devi, Dumo Remati, with one face and two hands holding a spear in the right and a heart in the left, riding on a mule. To the left is Damchen Dorje Legpa with one face and two hands holding a vajra in the right and a heart in the left, riding a snow lion.

Hevajra Lineage: Vajradhara, Nairatmya, Virupa (9th century), Kanhapa, Damarupa, Avadhutipa, Gayadhara (994-1043), Drogmi Lotsawa (992-1072), Seton Kunrig (1025-1113), Shangton Chobar (1053-1136), Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), Dragpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216), Sakya Pandita (1182-1251), etc.

The style of painting is called 'tsal tang.' On a vermilion, or similar, red background the figures are drawn, gold filled and lightly highlighted with various earth pigments. The names of the accompanying figures are written in barely legible black lettering beneath each.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery II
Tradition: Sakya Teachers
Painting Type: Red Background
Tradition: Sakya Founders
Subject: Guruyoga Iconography Page
Teacher: Sakya Pandita, Kunga Gyaltsen
Subject: Foundation Practices, Uncommon (Tantra)
Iconography: Guru (Teacher)