Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Karmapa 8, Mikyo Dorje

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 560)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Karma (Kagyu)
Size 85.09x60.96cm (33.50x24in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.39.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

TBRC: P385

Interpretation / Description

Sanggye Nyenpa and Mikyo Dorje, 8th Karmapa (1507-1554), seated at the right and wearing the black hat. A lineage teacher sits at the left side. Seated between the two is a very small image of Wangchug Dorje, the 9th Karmapa (1555-1603). The lineage teachers portrayed in the lower half of the painting belong to the Oral Instruction Lineage of the Five Stages.

Kar ma pa Biographical Details

Jeff Watt 1-2002


From a series of lineage lama tangkas commissioned by Karmapa in 1563. mm

The Kardgyu/Karmapa Lineage:

Dharmakaya Buddha Vajradhara (Celestial Buddha) Tilopa (988 1069) Naropa (1016 1100) Marpa ( 1012 1096) Milarepa (1052 1135) Gampopa (1079 1153) Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa (1110 1193) Karmapa Karma Pakshi (120~1283) Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284 1339) Karmapa Rolpe Dorje (1340 1383) Karmapa Dezhin Shegpa (1384 1415) Karmapa Thongwa Donden (1416 1453) Karmapa Chodrag Gyatsho (1454 1506) Karmapa Mikyo Dorje (1507 1554) Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje (1556 1603)

This series of five tangkas ( #558 , #559 ,#560 , #561 , #562 )belongs to the Karmapa lineage. The series shows the portraits of the Karmapas, who are the Throne holders of the Kagyupa Sect. The series also includes Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa, the siddhas from whom the the Black hat sect is descended. To show the unbroken continuity in the transmission of the tradition, the teachers of the Karh~apas are also portrayed. It is very interesting to note that the approximate date when the Tangka series was commissioned can be deciphered by looking at the last tangka in the series. The Mikyo Dorje thanks has a small image of the Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje seated on a cushion. This indicates that the series was completed during the life time of Wangchuk Dorje and was probably commissioned by him. The small image below the Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje appears to be that of Shamar Kunchok Yenlak. It is very possible that the Tangka series was done during the time when the Karmapa and the Shamar Tulku travelled together. There are records that state that tangkas depicting the two of them together were painted at the time and presented to the Karmapa for consecration. Thus we can safetly date this series to the sixteenth century, and maybe more precisely between 1561 and 1564 A.D. the years when the Shamar Tulku and the Karmapa Here travelling together. The thanks series is extremely important for its historicity. The portraits are delicately painted, capturing the character of the personages. Each Tangka shows good composition; the Buddhas line the upper half of the thanks, the Karmapa and his teacher or pupil make up the central image with their tutelary dieties in between. The bottom frieze depicts various deities, monks and siddhas. One of the tangkas also depicts a Ganesa which is rather rare in Tibetan art.

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Tradition: Kagyu Teachers (Paintings)
Teacher: Two Main Figures (Composition)
Painting Set: Karma Kagyu Lineage (Two Figures)
Teacher: Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, 8th
Collection of RMA: Best of Collection 3
Collection of RMA: Persons Masterworks
Incarnation Lineage: Gyalwa Karmapa Main Page
Subject: Caricature Art
Subject: Kagyu Lineage Painting Sets (Two Figures)