Entries for month: May 2011

Ritseling Cave Paintings in Upper Mustang

May 30, 2011 ·

The Ritseling Cave is located in Upper Mustang on a peak West of the Konchog Ling Cave. Prior to the last few years it appears as though no one has entered the small cave complex in several hundred years. It has an assortment of murals with a large mandala close to the entrance along with several Buddha figures. Towards the back of the cave there is a mural depicting narrative scenes possibly of one of the occupants of the cave and his travels through Tibet and especially to Lhasa. Various protector deities are found along with a stunning image - large in size - of the nine faced, eighteen armed Garuda. The only other image of this Garuda in a Buddhist context is found in Phyang Monastery, Ladakh, India.

Tags: Nepal · Murals · art · Mustang

Luri Cave Paintings in Mustang

May 27, 2011 ·

The Luri Cave in Mustang, Nepal, has some of the earliest and most beautiful Buddhist wall murals. A set of the Eight Great Mahasiddhas stands out for the fine line and early iconographic features.

Tags: Nepal · Murals · art · Mustang

Konchog Ling Cave Paintings in Upper Mustang, Nepal

May 26, 2011 ·

The Mustang region of West Nepal is filled with hundreds if not thousands of caves cut into the mountainsides. They have been used as homes, storage facilities, burial sites, refuge from invasion, and retreat dwellings for Bon and Buddhist practitioners. The age of some of the caves date back several thousand years while others - more recent - may have been created as late as five hundred years ago.

Some of the many caves are decorated with beautiful murals. The Konchog Ling Cave in Upper Mustang depicts Vajradhara, Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara and Tara as the largest figures and then a portion of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas according to the Vajrasana system of enumeration. Each siddha figure is accompanied by the famous four line verse (unique for each siddha) composed by Vajrasana - an abbot of Bodhgaya in the 11th century.

The cave has suffered damage from natural erosion and the remainder of the Eighty-four siddhas have been lost due to the outer walls of the cave crumbling away. The date of the paintings is believed to be the 13th or 14th century.

Tags: Murals · art

Dzongsar Institute, Bir, H.P. India

May 25, 2011 ·

Images of Dzongsar Institute in North India. The murals painted on the walls at the entrance of the main temple are of interest because they depict both the new Temple in India and the original Dzongsar Monastery in Kham, Tibet. On another section of wall are King Gesar and several attendant figures along with a quote from the Manjushri Namasangiti Tantra which Khyentse Chokyi Lodro believed was phrophetic and heralding the coming of Gesar to Tibet.

Tags: Murals · Architecture

Pagpa Lokeshvara: A Unique Sculptural Form

May 24, 2011 ·

Avalokiteshvara, Arya Lokeshvara (Tibetan: pag pa chen re zi. English: the Noble All Seeing Lord) commonly referred to in English as Pagpa Lokeshvara. This is a unique sculptural form of Avalokiteshvara which is believed to have its origins in the famous Pagpa Lokeshvara statue of the Red Fort of Marpo-ri, later to be known as the Potala Palace of Lhasa, Tibet. There are many versions of this sculpture in both wood and ivory found in collections around the world. One of the largest of these sculptures is from Kyirong in Southern Tibet, now housed in Dharamsala, India. Another large sculpture with a full torana is in a palace chapel in Mustang, Nepal.

Ian Alsop in his article Phagpa Lokes'vara of the Potala identifies and provides images for over 17 of these unique forms. Since the publishing of the article many more have been identified in other collections.

(For additional information see Phagpa Lokes'vara of the Potala by Ian Alsop. Orientations, 1990).

Tags: iconography · art

Gesar or an Unidentified Drala Warrior?

May 23, 2011 ·

Drala, worldly protector: accompanied by Brahma, Vishnu and six warrior attendants. The central figure riding a horse, currently unidentified, in Drala appearance, has some similarities to King Gesar but the retinue does not correspond well with the writings on Gesar popularized by Mipam Rinpoche in the 19th century. It is possible that this form of Gesar is based on a 'Revealed Treasure' or 'Pure Vision' of some other teacher from Kham in the 19th century. The painting is beautifully drawn and coloured with all of the figures placed in a forward focussed direction - indicating that the composition likely stands alone and does not belong to a set of paintings.

Tags: iconography

Maitreya & Manjushri in Dialogue

May 20, 2011 ·

The subject of these paintings is a dialogue between Maitreya and Manjushri following a Mahayana Buddhist narrative. Probably the most famous depiction of this narrative is found in Dratang Monastery, Tibet, painted in the 11th century. Although damaged both by time and human events the beauty of the Dratang murals is immediately evident. There are minor difference in the various depictions and the iconography of the figures, but the story remains the same.

Tags: iconography · narrative

Tracking an Artist

May 20, 2011 ·

One of the most exciting things about the study of Himalayan and Tibetan art is the tracking of artists. The excitment really peaks when a composition is suspected of being related to other paintings and then subsequently identified by style, brushstroke, etc., to in fact be related to those other works. The painting of Maitreya and Manjushri is just such a painting.

The image of the Maitreya and Manjushri painting was recently uploaded to the HAR website and was quietly waiting to be catalogued. It was observed that the composition of the Maitreya was similar to other paintings on HAR - specifically a set of Karma Kagyu Lineage paintings.

In comparing the details of the recently uploaded painting and the Karma Kagyu set it was observed that the thrones were a shared single seat for two figures. It was observed that the brushstrokes of the faces and facial features were very similar. After that it became a flood of similarities leading the HAR team to believe that the Maitreya painting and the Karma Kagyu Lineage set were created and painted by the same single (currently unknown) artist. The real Art History detective work begins now.

Tags: Sets · art

The Temple Door - Mindrolling Monastery, India

May 19, 2011 ·

The Temple Door of Mindrolling Monastery, India, is a wonderful example of both metal work and design with intricate detailing, mythical animals and a medallion depicting the story of the Four Harmonious Friends.

Tags: Sculpture · art · Architecture

A Bon Monastery - Manduwalla, India

May 18, 2011 ·

In Manduwalla, North India, near Dehradun there is a small Bon Monastery with some nice art - although mostly new. What is most interesting are the unique iconographic forms, a graphic map of the sacred land of Olmo Lungring and the Bon version of the Wheel of Life (Sipa'i khorlo).

Tags: art · Bon Religious Art