Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Dalai Lama V, Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 8314)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Metal, Mercuric Gild
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male


Interpretation / Description

Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso, 5th Dalai Lama (1617-1682 [TBRC P37]).

The identification of the 5th Dalai Lama is based on the inscription where it reads 'A sculpture of the omniscient ...' The image also follows the common portraiture for the face and head which is similar and in keeping with many other sculptures of the 5th that have inscriptions identifying the subject. What is unusual about the sculpture is the lack of a mustache and the peg (kila/purba) commonly situated in the sash belt around the waist.

It was not uncommon for the 5th Dalai Lama to bless sculptures of himself. In his autobiography he even complains at times about the number and frequency of trays of sculpture brought before him for his blessing. The activity of blessing sometimes would entail the handling of the object and at other times he would simply scatter barley over the objects or blow with the breath guided by the open palm in the direction of the sculpture. He would also bless many other sculptures of famous religious teachers, deities, ritual objects and medicine according to his biography.


The inscription can be interpreted in a number of different ways:

'A sculpture of the omniscient Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso [touched/blessed] by the hand [with] barley.'

'A sculpture of the omniscient Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso [touched/blessed] by the hand.'

Jeff Watt 2-2019

'Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso (1617-1682), the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, was born in 1617 in Chongye, south of Lhasa. He is the first of the Dalai Lamas to have a significant influence on the Tibetan people. He united the three provinces of Kham, Amdo and Utsang under his leadership and government (Ganden Podrang). The Great Fifth was both a scholar and statesman. During his time the relationship between Tibet and its neighbors, India, China and Mongolia flourished. Another achievement by Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso, and his regent Desi Sanggye Gyatso, was the construction of the Potala Palace. As the principal home of the Dalai Lamas and the largest structure in Tibet, the Potala Palace stands today as the icon of Tibet.'

Tenzin Dharlo 3-2005

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Faith & Empire - Art & Politics in Tibetan Buddhism

Thematic Sets
Collection: Bonhams, Hong Kong (October, 2020)
Teacher: Dalai Lama V, Lobzang Gyatso Page
Collection of Yury Khokhlov