Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Sangye Sengge

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 96)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Sakya, Ngor (Sakya) and Buddhist
Size 62.23x45.72cm (24.50x18in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.21.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P2510

Interpretation / Description

Sanggye Sengge (1504-1569) the 11th throne holder of Ngor Ewam Monastery [Tbrc code: P989]. The painting was commissioned after the passing of Sanggye Sengge by the student Gelong Chogyong Lhundrub.

Biographical Details

Wearing the red pandita hat typical of Sakya and attired in the patched red robes of a fully ordained monk, he holds the right hand at the heart in the mudra (gesture) of blessing while holding the stem of a lotus blossom supporting a gold vajra. With the left hand in the lap cradling a gold Wheel of Dharma and a lotus stem blossoming above and supporting a bell he sits in vajra posture on a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat above an ornate lion throne with an elaborate and intricate backrest; radiating a blue nimbus and green areola.

At the top left is the Indian mahasiddha Virupa, brown in colour, with the two hands in the Dharma teaching mudra. In the corner, seated on a throne, is Dorje Chang Kunga Zangpo (1382-1456) wearing monk

Numbered List:
1. Virupa
2. Sachen Kunga Nyingpo
3. Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo
4. Konchog Gyaltsen
5. Hevajra
6. Rakta Yamari
7. Dronma Chog Dampa (?)
8. Lhachog Sengge
9. Jamyang Konchog Lhundrub
10. Sonam Lhundrub
11. Ngag Chang Kunga Rinchen
12. Sherab Gyaltsen
13. Panjarnata Mahakala
14. Vaishravana Riding a Lion
15. Donor Figure: Gelong Chogyong Lhundrub

Jeff Watt 11-2000

Sanggye Sengge

Sanggye Sengge (1504-1569. sangs rgyas seng ge) was born at Sakya in 1504. His father, a relative of Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (ngor chen kun dga bzang po, 1382-1456), was named Tsewang Paljor (tshe dbang dpal 'byor), and was and his mother was called Yungdrung Sedzom (yung drung sras 'dzoms). His childhood name was Lhamo Tsering (lha mo tshe ring). At age eight, he took lay vows and received the Amitayus empowerment at Sakya's Labrang Shar (bla brang shar). He was an extremely quick learner and excelled in his early studies. At age thirteen he went to Ngor monastery (ngor e wam chos ldan) and took monastic vows with the abbot Sanggye Rinchen (sangs rgyas rin chen, 1450-1524). He was given the name Sanggye Sengge at that time. After receiving basic Buddhist instructions and training Sanggye Sengge began to study philosophy with masters such as Chodrag Gyatso (chos grags rgya mtsho, d.u.) and Lodro Rabyang (blo gros rab yangs, d.u.). After Sanggye Sengge had demonstrated his skill and learning to the assembly at Sakya, his teacher Konchog Lundrub (dkon mchog lhun grub, 1497-1557) who was the tenth Ngor abbot, decided that he was ready to be fully ordained. Sanggye Sengge continued to receive scholarly and yogic instructions from his many great teachers. He showed great resolve and became an extremely accomplished meditator as well.

Sanggye Sengge began teaching at the age of twenty-five and quickly attracted many disciples. Soon after he began teaching, a Sakya lama in Mustang passed away and he went to attend the funeral. He stayed in Mustang for six months giving teachings to a patron called Lodro Chopag (blo gros chos 'phags). He also received invitations to travel to various monasteries to give teachings, and a military leader from Mu requested that Sanggye Sengge come teach in Mu. Because of traveling and teaching so extensively, he became known as an extraordinary master, especially in Tsang. He was particularly noted for his role in the transmission of the Lamdre Tsokshe.

When the tenth Ngor abbot Konchog Lundrub passed away in 1557, Sanggye Sengge was enthroned at Ngor. Great masters such as Sakya Ngagwang Kunga Rinchen (ngag dbang kun dga' rin chen, 1517-1584) as well as other prominent religious and secular figures came to celebrate his enthronement. In response to the frequent invitations from prominent people across Eastern, Western, and Central Tibet, he continued to travel and teach throughout his life, sometimes acting as a mediator in political disputes.

Sanggye Sengge's main teachers were Kunga Rinchen (kun dga' rin chen, 1517-1584), who was the twenty-fourth throne-holder at Sakya monastery; and Lachog Sengge (lha mchog seng ge, 1468-1535), the ninth Ngor abbot.

His students included Kunga Rinchen, who was also one of his root teachers, and Namka Palzang (nam mkha' dpal bzang, 1532-1602), the thirteenth Ngor abbot.

Name Variants: Jamyang Sanggye Sengge; Lhamo Tsering; Ngor Khenchen 11 Sanggye Sengge.


Mu bo. 2002. Gsung ngag rin po che lam 'bras bla ma brgyud pa'i rnam thar kun 'dus me long. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 92-94.

Sangs rgyas phun tshogs. 1985 (17th c.) Dpal e waM chos ldan gyi gdan rabs nor bu'i phreng bzhes bya ba zhugs Dehradun: Sakya Center. Pp. 21-25.

Jackson, David. 2010. The Nepalese Legacy in Tibetan Painting. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Dominique Townsend, July 2010

[Extracted from the Treasury of Lives, Tibetan lineages website. Edited and formatted for inclusion on the Himalayan Art Resources website. July 2010].

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Tradition: Sakya Protectors (Composition Examples)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Tradition: Sakya Teachers
Chronology: Sakya Painting & Sculpture - Dated
Subject: Jewels (Early Use as Offerings)
Subject: Ngor Tradition (Teachers)
Collection of RMA: Ngor Style Paintings
Subject: Lineage Composition (Greyscale)
Teacher: Sanggye Sengge, 11th Ngor Abbot
Painting Set: Ngor Monastery (Related Paintings)