Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tsongkapa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 90125)
Origin Location China
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: P64

Interpretation / Description

Lord Tsongkapa, Lobzang Dragpa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa School.

Tsongkapa Biographical Details

Peacefully gazing forward, Je Rinpoche (the Precious Lord) displays with the two hands at the heart the mudra (gesture) of Dharma teaching, symbolizing the eight spoked wheel. Delicately held in the fingers of both hands are the stems of two blue utpala flowers blossoming at both ears and supporting the flaming sword of wisdom on the right and the Prajnparamita book on the left. The head covered with a yellow pandita hat, he wears the patched saffron and red coloured robes of a fully ordained monk with the legs folded in vajra posture. Seated on a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus surrounded by an orange nimbus and dark green areola Tsongkapa rests upon a bank of billowing white clouds.

Directly above is the buddha of long life, Amitayus, red in colour, holding a longevity vase. To the left is the goddess Ushnishavijaya, white with three faces and eight hands. To the right is White Tara with one face and two hands holding a large white lotus in the left. These three are known as the 'Tse Lha Nam Sum' (the Three Long-Life Deities).

At the bottom left is the wealth deity Jambhala, yellow in colour, holding a bijapuraka fruit in the extended right hand and a mongoose held in the lap with the left. In the center is the Lord of the Four Direction Guardians, Vaishravana, orange, holding a multi-coloured banner with the right hand and a mongoose with the left; riding a white snow lion. At the right side before a table covered with an array of precious offerings a monk with two attendants, reverential and kneeling, offers a white scarf to the Lord Tsongkapa.

Born in the Amdo region of Eastern Tibet Lobzang Dragpa (Tsongkapa) received novice monks vows from the fourth Karmapa Rolpa'i Dorje. Travelling to Central Tibet he studied with Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma masters showing a special fondness for the Sutrayana teachings of Jowo Atsiha from the earlier Kadampa Tradition. From the founding of Ganden monastery and a following of numerous students the Gelugpa School was born.

The painting style is Beijing/Imperial Palace.

Jeff Watt 9-98

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