Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Dalai Lama VII, Kalzang Gyatso

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 46911)
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

TBRC: bdr:P179

Interpretation / Description

Kalzang Gyatso (1708-1757), 7th Dalai Lama from a set of likely seven paintings depicting secret Tantric practices. At this time this composition is the only known example from the full set (see detail images). There are several other sets with the identical composition known depicting this subject. The most complete set is in the collection of Tibet House, New Delhi. (See compositions from various sets).

It is believed that the central figure is Kalzang Gyatso, the 7th Dalai Lama surrounded by siddha figures and Tantric symbolism. The entire set of seven paintings must be understood as a whole to be able to understand individual compositions such as this painting.

According to the Tibet House painting set the known images and compositions are:
1. Avalokiteshvara
2. Kalzang Gyatso
3. Kalzang Gyatso (?)
4. Siddha Figure (Kalzang Gyatso?)
5. Chakrasamvara Meditational Deity
6. Kalachakra Meditational Deity
7. (Unknown subject)

Surrounding the central figure of Kalzang Gyatso there are two sets of eight siddha figures surrounding the central image of a Tibetan teacher wearing monastic attire. The outer eight siddhas are named along with eight sacred locations known as a pita (pitha). There are twenty-four & thirty-two sacred pitas in India that are associated with Tantric places of worship. The twenty-four locations are also code names for twenty-four points in the physical body of the Tantric practitioner - the Body Mandala. Two of the other paintings in the complete set have an additional eight siddhas per painting accounting for the remaining sixteen sacred pitas of India (see the Kalachakra and Siddha figure paintings).

The eight siddhas inhabiting the inner rocky enclosure do not have any name inscriptions and remain unidentified.

In front of the throne seat is a table with various offerings arranged which include the five meats, alcohol and a large white 'torma' - ritual food offering. The five goddesses in dancing postures located at the lower front are the Sense Offering Goddesses representing [1] touch, [2] smell, [3] sight, [4] sound, and [5] taste.

Numbered Image, Eight Pitas & Eight Siddhas:
A. Kalzang Gyatso, 7th Dalai Lama
1. Kalinga, Rabtu Zang, the palate
2. Oti, Dorje Ralpachen, the two breasts
3. Rameshvari, Pagme, point between the eyes
4. Koshala, Humkara, the tip of the nose
5. Devikoti, Dorje'i O, the two eyes
6. Sindh, Pema'i Wang, the two ankles
7. Maru, Nampar Nagdze Che, the two thumbs & two big toes
8. Himalaya, Migme Zang, Himalaya

Blue Numbers, Eight Siddhas & Five Sense Offering Goddesses:
1. Siddha
2. Siddha
3. Siddha
4. Siddha
5. Siddha
6. Siddha
7. Siddha
8. Siddha
9. Touch Goddess
10. Smell Goddess
11. Sight Goddess
12. Sound Goddess
13. Taste Goddess

Jeff Watt 4-2012

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Painting Set: Dalai Lama VII (Secret Biography)
Collection: Private 21
Details of 46911
Teacher: Dalai Lama VII, Kalzang Gyatso
Teacher: Dalai Lama VII, Kalzang Gyatso (Set)
Subject: Greyscale - Figurative & General Composition
Subject: Tantric Feast (Ganachakra)
Glossary: Tantric Subjects (Vajrayana)
Subject: Hidden Images In Painting