Entries for month: April 2010

Padmasambhava: Iconographic Sub-sets

April 17, 2010 ·

Presented here is a chart listing all of the standard appearances of Padmasambhava and those appearances in combination with other immediately related iconographic subjects.

The Padmasambhava Iconographic Sub-sets Chart is a work in progress based on the chart created for Tonpa Shenrab - posted some weeks ago. We are attempting to systematize, categorize and prioritize the visual occurrences of Padmasambhava with the intention of making it easier to identify, name and contextualize the various forms of Guru Rinpoche as they occur in painting and sculpture.

On a recent art survey trip to China, the HAR Team discovered that while working with Chinese and Tibetan colleagues, there was no common language or system in place for discussing the numerous and varied visual occurrences of Padmasambhava. This became even more apparent when cataloguing vast numbers of paintings, in the hundreds, from broken sets depicting subjects such as the life story of Padmasambhava, wrathful forms, meditational forms, the Eight Manifestations relating to the life-story, etc., etc. 

This is our first attempt to try and bring some order to this very large and complicated subject that has a voluminous wealth of paintings and sculpture spread throughout the world. In terms of quantities of art representing various subjects, aside from representations of the Buddhas, Arhats, Peaceful Deities and Wrathful Deities, the subject of Padmasambhava is probably the next most prolific and in immediate need of systematization (which the other categories of art subjects have already received either within the Buddhist traditions themselves over the past centuries or by modern art historians and religious studies scholars in the previous century).

So, please be patient, this is still a work in progress.

Tags: iconography

Shakyamuni Buddha & the Four Traditions of Tibet

April 17, 2010 ·

This set of five paintings was commissioned in Northern India in 2007/2008 and depict the historical Buddha Shakyamuni in the first composition and four famous teachers belonging to the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug Traditions in the accompanying four paintings.

Shakyamuni Buddha is surrounded by the Six Ornaments & Two Excellent Ones of the Southern Continent. For the Nyingma Tradition Longchenpa Drime Ozer is depicted. For the Sakya it is Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen. For the Kagyu it is Milarepa Zhepa Dorje and for the Gelug Tsongkapa Lobzang Dragpa. Each figure, major and minor - in the five painted compositions, is accompanied by a name inscription written in the Tibetan 'U-chen' script.

The other name worthy Buddhist lineages of Tibet such as Kadam, Rwa, Shangpa Kagyu, Jonang, Bodong and Bulug are represented by individual teachers in the four paintings depicting the four principal traditions. Over the next few weeks the five images will be greyscaled and each figure numbered and related to a numbered list of names for easy identification.

Tags: iconography

Strange, Weird & Unidentified Sculpture

April 15, 2010 ·

Most of the sculpture in the HAR database are identified as to subject and origin, however some pieces defy identification. In those rare cases the objects are often not Himalayan in origin, or Tibetan, or Mongolian, etc.,  and may not be related to Tibetan Buddhism or the Bon Religion at all. Sometimes the pieces are poorly crafted, or belong to a larger composition and not understandable and identifiable unless in context with the whole.

To facilitate a greater ease for investigation some of the stranger pieces on the HAR website have been put together into a single group of images - Sculpture - Strange, Weird & Unidentified. Also related to this subject are  the links for Weird & Fantastical Gods & Deities, Animal Headed Gods & Deities along with the three groupings of images on Unidentified Subjects, Siddhas and Teachers. Please let us know if you are successful in identifying any or all of the uncatalogued images.

Tags: Unidentified · iconography