Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Gampopa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 561)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Karma (Kagyu)
Size 87.00x60.33cm (34.25x23.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.39.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P1844

Interpretation / Description

Lord Gampopa (1079-1153) and his student Dusum Khyenpa, the 1st Karmapa (1110-1193): with a portion of the Thousand Buddhas of this Aeon above and the teaching lineages of Asanga and Nagarjuna at the bottom.

The central figure at the left is Dakpo Da Od Zhonnu (Gampopa) seated in a traditional manner. The two hands placed at the heart perform the mudra of Dharma teaching and grasp the stems of two lotus blossoms supporting an upright gold vajra and bell. The crown of the head is adorned with a red cap and he wears the orange and red patchwork robes of a fully ordained monk (bhikshu). With the legs folded in vajra posture he sits atop a multi-coloured lotus and lion supported ornate throne surrounded by spheres of radiating light.

At the right is Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa gazing towards his teacher and exhibiting the characteristic appearance of a protruding jaw. In the right hand held extended across the knee he holds a folio style Dharma book. In the left held to the heart he holds a lotus stem blossoming with pink petals at the left side. On the head he wears the black vajra crown, a gift of the dakinis, the singular shared physical characteristic of all Karmapas. Wrapped in a meditation cloak he sits atop a cushioned seat above a throne surrounded by emanating rays of light. (Name inscriptions in gold lettering are located on the throne beneath each).

Along the top in rows are 46 buddha figures all identical with one face and two hands. The right hand is in the mudra of earth witness and the left placed in the lap in the mudra of meditation. Attired in the orange-red robes of a monk they sit with the legs folded in vajra posture. Between the two central figures are three forms of the tutelary deity Guhyasamaja. At the upper left is Akshobhyavajra, blue in colour, with three faces and six hands embracing the consort (also with six hands), seated in vajra posture. To the right is Lokeshvara, red, three faces and six hands. Below is Manjuvajra (with name inscription), orange, with the same features and attributes.

At the bottom are two horizontal rows of Indian teachers (panditas), exemplars in the lineage of philosophical view - Madyamaka and Yogacara/Cittamatra. The first row: Simhabhadra (also known as Haribhadra), Lawa (?), (?), Asanga, the buddha Shakyamuni, a bodhisattva, Vasubandhu, Namdze, (?), and Chen Cho. The second row: Suvarnadvipa, Chandrakirti, Aryadeva, the bodhisattva Manjushri, Nagarjuna, pandita Rigpa Kyu Yugpa, Rigpa Kyu Yugpa the younger, Palden Atisha, Tonpa Tsultrim Bar and Geshe Chayul. (Name inscriptions in gold lettering above and beneath each).

The name stated above as Da 'Od Zhonnu meaning 'Youthful Moon Rays' is unusual and unexplained. Gampopa's name is normally given as Rinchen Sonam received at the time of his full monastic ordination from the Geshe Gyachilwa. Gampopa was the main heart student of the famous yogin Milarepa. Dusum Khyenpa, a student of Gampopa, was the founder of the Karma (Kamtsang) branch of the Kagyu Lineage. He served as Abbot of Daklha Gampo monastery after Gampopa and founded Tsurphu monastery - becoming the seat of the future incarnate Karmapa lamas.

Jeff Watt 2-99

This tangka belongs to a larger series of tangkas, five of which are extant ( #558 , #559 ,#560 , #561 , #562 ) that depict the Karma Kagyu lingeage.

Gampopa was born in Nyal in Eastern Tibet to a physician. By the time he was fifteen he was well versed in the Tantras and medicine. Gampopa became a monk at the age of twentysix after the death of his wife. He became a disiple of Milarepa, from whom he reamed the tradition desended from Naropa. Gampopa travelled to Dvagspo in Southeastern Tibet where he practiced his meditation. Later he built a monastery and retreat center in Dvagspo and attracted numerous disiples. Gampopa came to be popularly known as Dvagspo Eharje, the doctor of Dvagspo. In this thanks he is identified as "Dvagspo Moon Radiance". Gampopa's spiritual attainment is often compared with that of the sun or the moon.

Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa (1110 - 1193). (right)

Dusum Khyenpa was born in the village of Ratag, in Eastem Tibet. His father was a yogi and a devotee of Yamantaka and his mother a yogini. After receiving various empowerments and teachings he found his way to Dvagspo where he met Gampopa. Gampopa instructed Dusum Khyenpa in different fomms of meditation. Lama Sakya Shri and Lama Shang recognised Dusum Khyenpa to be the "Man of Karma" whose arrival and successive incarnations had been predicted by the Buddha. Thus Dusum Khyenpa became the first Karmapa. 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

Front of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: First Row: dags po zla 'od gzhon nu la na mah, dpal den du gsum mkyen pa la na mah, 'jam pa'i rdo [?]. seng ge bzang, la wa'i [?], [?], thogs med, thub pa la na mah, [?], dbyig gnyen, rnams mdzad, [?], chen spyod. Second Row: gsir gling pa, zla po grags pa, 'phags pa lha, 'jam dbyangs la na mo, klu grups, pandita rig pa'i kyu dbyug ba, rigs pa'i khu dbyug chung ba, dpal ldan a ti sha, ston pa tshul khrim 'bar, dge shes bya yul [?].

Secondary Images
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