This image is of the earliest known Karma Kagyu Refuge Field painting - Field of Accumulation. It can be dated to the life of the 15th Karmapa Kakyab Dorje (1870/71-1921/22). His typical iconographic attributes are a vajra and bell held in the hands along with two flowers supporting a sword and book. In this painting the 15th Karmapa is depicted in the lower part of the composition. Above his left shoulder is a long-life vase on a flower blossom with the sword and book on a flower at the right shoulder. The vase or rather a long-life vase is often used to indicate that a teacher is still alive when a painting or sculpture is commissioned. It is an auspicious long-life gesture by the donor and artist. At the right and left sides of the seated Karmapa are Situpa and Jamyang Dorje. The Situ must be the 11th Situpa, Pema Wangchug Gyalpo (1886-1952). The other figure of Jamyang Dorje is not quite as identifiable but is likely to be Jamyang Rinpoche the 11th Shamarpa and son of the 15th Karmapa, Kakyab Dorje.
The painting is extremely detailed and each figure is accompanied by a written name inscription beneath. The specific Karma Kagyu teachers depicted are of the Mahamudra lineage beginning with Vajradhara, the primordial Buddha, and the Indian mahasiddha Saraha. The over-all appearance of the composition along with the names of the teachers follows closely the text Ngedon Dronme of Jamgon Kongtrul (1813-1899) based on the Ngedon Gyatso of the 9th Karmapa, Wangchug Dorje.
Jeff Watt, 3-2010
Numbered & Greyscaled:
Eight Mahasiddhas (top center) A. Lawapa B. Luipa C. Kukkuripa D. Tilopa E. Indrabhuti F. Naropa G. Dombi Heruka 4. Nagarjuna