Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Karmapa 9, Wangchug Dorje

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 797)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Karma (Kagyu)
Size 52.07x86.36cm (20.50x34in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1998.32.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P889

Interpretation / Description

Wangchuk Dorje, the 9th Karmapa, (1555-1603): a great traveler, scholar and practitioner.

Kar ma pa Biographical Details

Mature in appearance with slightly greying hair, he gazes to the side. The right hand is held to the heart performing the mudra of blessing with the index finger and thumb pressed together. The left hand placed in the lap performing the mudra of meditation supports a gold long-life vase. The head is gracefully adorned with the signature ornament of a Karmapa - the black vajra crown - a synthesis of the gift of the dakinis and the offering of Emperor Yung Lo. The upper body is attired in the gold and orange patchwork robe of a monk and wrapped about the lower body is a dark red meditation cloak. An areola, pink and ethereal, surrounds the head. Atop an ornate snow lion supported wooden throne, dark brown in colour, decorated with dragons, he is seated on a blue cushion and backrest draped with a white scarf. A table in front supports a gold water flask, teacup, a Dharma wheel ornament and bowl.

At the bottom center is a heap of precious wishing jewels, gold, red coral and elephant tusks. At the right side two attendant monks hold an incense burner and a folio book, standing respectfully, attired in orange and red robes. Behind the throne a bank of clouds partially conceals a flowering tree offering refuge to a pair of long-tailed blue birds. The sparse foreground recedes transforming into tall snow capped mountains, cloud and open sky.

Recognized by Situ Rinpoche and enthroned by Shamar Rinpoche, the 9th Karmapa spent most of his life living in a tent city travelling back and forth across the wilds of Tibet from Lhodrag in the south to the highland plains of the north, across to Mogolia and throughout the regions of Kham in the east. Well educated and a moderately prolific writer, two of his more important compositions on mahamudra were the 'Ocean of Certainty' and 'Eliminating the Darkness of Ignorance.' One of his more famous students was Jonang Taranatha.

Jeff Watt 9-99

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Tradition: Kagyu Teachers (Paintings)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 8
Incarnation Lineage: Gyalwa Karmapa Main Page
Teacher: Karmapa Wangchug Dorje, 9th
Painting Set: Karmapa Set (14)