Himalayan Art Resources

King: Gesar Main Page

Gesar Masterworks

- Art History

- Iconography

- Religious Context

- Gesar
- Gesar: Study Topics
- Painted Scrolls of the Life of Gesar (Book Review)
- Warrior Appearance

Study Topics:
- Literary Epic/Folk Gesar
--- Generic Iconographic Figure
--- Life Story Paintings
--- Art (Miscellaneous)
- Religious Gesar
--- Iconographic Figures
--- Chronology of Religious Texts
--- Chronology of Art & Iconography

Gesar is a folk hero of Eastern Tibet and predominantly known through literature and live performance. He is believed to have lived around the 10th century. The stories of Gesar, epic in size, are brought to life through dramatic performances, song and public readings of his many adventures. This Gesar can be termed Literary Gesar. It is quite possibly the longest epic poetry in the world. Despite the popularity of all of this there is relatively little found in the way of art: paintings, murals and sculpture. What objects are known are also dated very late - 19th and 20th centuries. Primarily derived from the writings of Ju Mipham this later version of Gesar can be termed Religious Gesar. The general depiction of Gesar is of a Tibetan warrior, atop a horse, clad in armor, and wearing a helmet, with elaborate flag pennants and streamers, accompanied by either eight or more horseman, generally up to thirty horsemen.

In Tibet the Gesar epic is primarily associated with the Buddhist religion however with the rise of Religious Gesar there have also appeared Gesar texts related to the Bon religion. Bon Gesar ritual texts can be found in the Gyalwang Kundrol Kater Chenmo collection of works authored by Kundrol Humchen Drodul Lingpa (1901-1956), the 6th Kundrol Dragpa. It has also been suggested that Drodul Lingpa was the father of Lhase Minje Rinpoche, the father being known for writing Gesar ritual texts.

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Jeff Watt, 8-2009 [updated 11-2011, 5-2017, 2-2020, 2-2022]


From the Treasury of Tibetan Pictorial Art: Painted Scrolls of the Life of Gesar. Editor-in-Chief, Zhang Changhong. Forward by Leonard van der Kuijp. Sichuan Museum, 2012. ISBN: 978-7-101-08513-6.