Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tsongkapa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 54367)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Field Museum of Natural History
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male


Interpretation / Description

Lord Tsongkapa, Lobzang Dragpa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa School, emanating from the heart of the bodhisattva Maitreya.

Tsongkapa Biographical Details

In the appearance of a monastic scholar with a yellow pandita hat and the orange patchwork robes of a fully ordained monk Tsongkapa 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 pink lotus seat surrounded by an ornate gold nimbus of wishing jewels and rainbow spheres. At the front, to the right and left of a begging bowl, sit the two close disciples of Je Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen (1364-1432) and Kedrup Geleg Pal Zangpo (1385-1438). Both wear monastic robes and yellow hats each holding a book in the left hand while the right hands assume postures of explication of the teachings. Emanating from the heart of the bodhisattva Maitreya, dwelling in the Tushita heaven above, all three are seated atop a great white bank of billowing clouds.

"From the heart of the Lord of the hundred gods of Tushita, on the peak of a cloud, bright white like a mound of fresh yogurt, Lord of Dharma, Omniscient Lobzang Dragpa, together with sons; please come here." (Gelugpa liturgical verse).

Seated in a western style with the legs in front Maitreya is flanked on both sides with Dipamkara Atisha to the left and Tsongkapa to the right. The heaven is lavish with ornate buildings and scenic landscapes.

To the middle left of Tsongkapa is a small depiction of Shakyamuni Buddha seated on a white lotus. At the right side is the meditational deity of purification, Vajrasattva.

At the bottom left is the protector Yama Dharmaraja, blue-black in colour, with the head of a buffalo, holding a bone stick and lasso. He rides on the back of a blue buffalo, completely surrounded by flame. At the right side is the female protector deity, fearsome and wrathful, Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo riding atop a mule through a sea of blood.

Jeff Watt 8-1998 [updated 7-2010]

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Teacher: Tsongkhapa Main Page
Collection of the Field Museum of Natural History (Painting)
Teacher: Tsongkapa (Descending from Tushita)
Collection of the Field Museum (Best of Collection)