Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Jamgon Kongtrul

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 73405)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma and Kagyu
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P264

Interpretation / Description

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye (1813-1899) at the center accompanied by hand and foot prints - from a three painting set depicting Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Choggyur Lingpa in the other two compositions. (See Jamgon Kongtrul Main Page). An inscription on the back of the the painting states that it was commissioned by the tantric student Tashi Chopel [TBRC P6173] when Kongtrul was 85 years old in 1898 a year before the passing of Kongtrul in 1899.

The Tibetan custom of having drawings done based on the physical outline of a teachers feet (and later - hands) appears to be an oral instruction coming down from Gampopa Sonam Rinchen. The most famous early text describing this practice was written by Pagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo - a direct student of Gampopa. A number of early paintings are known that depict the feet of Drigung and Taglung teachers. (See Footprints & Handprints Main Page).

Jamgon Kongtrul is depicted with white hair, indicating that the painting was commissioned late in life. The two hands at the heart perform a teaching gesture, grasping the stems of two flower blossoms supporting above the shoulder on the proper right a sword and book and on the left a vase (often topped with a yungdrung symbol). Placed in the sash of the lower garment is a purbu (ritual peg). Attired in the garb of a fully ordained monk, and an unusual white shirt with half sleeves, he wears atop the head a pandita hat with an unusually narrow peak. The three horizontal rings represent the accomplishment of having completely studied the three components of the Buddhist Tripitaka. (See Kagyu Hats).

At the top center is Heruka Chakrasamvara embracing Vajrayogini-varahi, surrounded by the red flames of pristine awareness.

"Chakrasamvara, blue in colour, the right foot is extended pressing on red Kalaratri and the left drawn in [pressing] on black Bhairava. With one face and two hands, three eyes, the right hand holds a vajra and the left a bell; embracing the consort, with a crown of five dry human heads as a crown, a necklace of fifty wet, and adorned with the six bone ornaments. [Chakrasamvara is] embraced by the consort Vajravarahi, red in colour, with one face and two hands. The right hand holds a curved knife pointed to the ten directions. The left holds a skullcup filled with the five nectars and embraces the Father. [She is] adorned with a crown of five dry human heads, a [necklace] of fifty dry [heads] and the five bone ornaments." (Jamyang Kyentse Wangpo, 1820-1892).

At the bottom center is Shadbhuja Mahakala, blue, with one face and six hands, standing in front of a sandalwood tree in the Indian charnal ground of Sitavana.

"The Lord of Pristine Awareness has six hands and a body dark blue in colour. The first two hold a curved knife and skullcup, the middle two a human skull mala and trident, the lowest two a damaru drum and lasso. Adorned with a tiger skin, garland of heads, bones and snakes, and small bells on the hands and feet. Standing in a manner with the two legs together pressing down on Ganapati. With three eyes, bared fangs, eyebrows, beard and hair flowing upward with Akshobhya as a crown. Anointed with a sindhura drop on the forehead. Supported behind by a sandalwood tree, dwelling in the middle of a blazing mass of fire." (Jonang Taranata, 1575-1634).

Jeff Watt 2-2011

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection: Private 4, Painting (Masterworks & Historically Important)
Subject: Hats (Pandita Hat Funnel Shape)
Collection: Private 4 (Painting)
Teacher: Jamgon Kongtrul Main Page
Subject: Three Manjushri Embodiments
Collection: Private 4 (Painting 19th Century)
Collection: Private 4 (Teachers)
Subject: Footprints & Handprints Main Page
Subject: Footprints & Handprints (Kagyu)
Subject: Footprints (Lamas)
Subject: Footprints & Handprints (Both)