Himalayan Art Resources

Incarnation Lineage: Dalai Lama Main Page

Dalai Lama Masterworks

- Art History

- Iconography (List of Dalai Lamas)

- Religious Context


Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588) was the first to bear the title Dalai Lama, a line of successively re-incarnating teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. Gedun Drub and Gedun Gyatso, referred to as the first and second Dalai Lamas, were posthumously recognized as his predecessors. It was the 5th Dalai Lama, also known as the Great 5th, Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso (1617-1682) that unified Tibet once again and established the Ganden Podrang Government. The successive Dalai Lamas have been the acting or nominal Heads of State since the time of the Great 5th. Depictions of the Dalai Lamas can be recognized by the iconographic characteristics of a white lotus flower held in the right hand and a yellow Pandita hat. The yellow hat is an attribute also shared with Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug Tradition, and with other Gelug teachers that followed. The white lotus flower is the principal attribute of the bodhisattva Lokeshvara.

Jeff Watt 2-2002 [updated 4-2017, 1-2020]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).