Panchen Lama Art History
It is very likely that the Nartang set is based on a single 17th century original composition attributed to the Tashi Lhunpo artist Choying Gyatso. The subject of the painting is Panchen Chokyi Gyaltsen and his previous incarnations. The painting has an inscription on the front at the lower right side.
Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Painting Set Description (below)
- Block Print Set (Complete: 13 compositions)
- Tibet House Set (Complete: 13 compositions)
- American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Set (Complete: 14 compositions)
- Lhasa Set
- Beijing Set
- Nartang Painted Set
- Nartang Extended Lineage Set (Incomplete Set: 9 compositions, 19 total)
- Newark Museum Set (Incomplete Painting Set: 1 composition, 3 total)
- Textile Sets - All
Video Panchen Lama: Part 2 (Nartang Painting Set)
Nartang Single Composition - All Figures Included: HAR #1057, HAR #94400, HAR #76064
- Prajnaparamita Wood Block Prints
1. Subhuti: HAR #971, 71921, 87029, 87210, 92056, 94417.
2. King Yashas: 132, 71922, 77034, 58979, 94321.
3. Bhavaviveka: 71923, 77228, 58978, 91080, 98418.
4. Abhayakaragupta: 756, 71924, 74012, 58872, 87022, 91075.
5. Go Lotsawa: 71925, 94286.
6. Sakya Pandita: 356, 71926, 74044, 94319.
7. Yungton Dorje Pal: 120, 71927, 91074.
8. (1st) Khedrub Geleg Pal Zangpo: 56, 71928, 58873, 87023, 87029.
9. (2nd) Sonam Choglang: 71929.
10. (3rd) Lobsang Dondrub: 267, 286, 71930.
11. 1st Panchen (4th) Lobzang Chokyi Gyaltsen: 477, 1073, 94270, 94424.
12. 2nd Panchen (5th) Lobzang Yeshe: 94425.
13. 3rd panchen (6th) Palden Yeshe (1738-1780): 58980, 71933, 74830.
There are several painting sets that are complete and intact that follow the Nartang block print originals. Aside from those there are dozens of partial and incomplete sets. The complete sets belong to the collection of Tibet House, New Delhi and the American Museum of Natural History, New York City. It is likely that other complete sets of paintings or the very hardy textile compositions will be found in monastery and temple collections in the East and museums and institutions in the West.
The Nartang Monastery block print set does not contain Amitabha, Padmasambhava or Atisha. It also does not appear to begin with Amitabha but rather uses as the central image for the set the current (for the time) Panchen Lama. All of the other previous incarnations would properly hang to the right and left side of the current and centrally positioned Panchen Lama. It would seem probable that at the time of the creation of the Nartang set it ended with the 2nd Panchen Lama Lobzang Yeshe (1663-1737).
The Nartang set would have contained thirteen individual compositions with the central image facing forward and the remaining images placed off center to the composition with half facing to the left and half facing to the right - all directed towards the central Panchen Lama image. (See an expanded list of previous incarnations from a Prajnaparamita Block Print Set).
Following after the original composition with a single Panchen Lama per painting later artists began to combine the figures placing two Panchen Lamas per painting and then three Panchens. This innovation reduces the number of paintings in the total set.
Jeff Watt 1-2012 [updated 7-2018]