Himalayan Art Resources

Item: King - Ralpachen

རྒྱལ་པོ། 国王
(item no. 8078)
Origin Location Tibet
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: King

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Ralpachen, the 41st King of Tibet (circa 806) ruled from 815 to 839 CE.

Ralpachen is rarely painted alone and is usually included as part of a larger set of compositions. He is often included as one of three main figures in a single composition depicting the three most important Buddhist kings of Tibet, Tri Songtsen Gampo, Trisongdetsen and Tri Ralpachen.

Ralpachen is typically depicted with a vajra and bell supported by two flower blossoms over the right and left shoulders. Alternately there could be one flower supporting both objects. Surrounded by a halo he sits inside a palace structure with the left leg extended in a relaxed posture. A large bowl of wish-fulfilling jewls is placed in front. The attribute of the vajra signifies that Ralpachen is an emanation of the bodhisttva Vajrapani. He wears heavy clothes, a turban crown and boots of felt and leather. In front and to the right side is a kneeling figure holding a text or letter. Figures such as this typically depict a minister awaiting instructions or conveying knews of the kingdom.

Compositions such as this became fashionable at the time of the 5th Dalai Lama in the mid 17th century and later when effort was placed on re-newed Tibetan nation building with a strong emphasis on the royalty of the distant past.

Jeff Watt 6-2018

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Thematic Sets
King: Ralpachen (Tibet)
Kings: Tibetan Kings Main Page
Collection of Anna Maria Rossi & Fabio Rossi