Himalayan Art Resources

Teachers: Early Paintings of Teachers

Early Paintings of Teachers | Taglung Painting Style

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Early Paintings of Teachers Explanation (below)
- Left Facing
- Right Facing
- Front Facing
- Pairs
- Confusions
- Others...

The images below are of early paintings of Buddhist teachers spanning the 11th to 14th centuries.

- Why do figures look to the front, right or left?
- Why do some figures consistently look to the left or right?
- Why do some figures consistently look forward?
- Why are some figures paired while others are not?

In later paintings primarily after the 14th century when large central figures are facing to the right or left it most often implies that the painting belongs to a set of compositions depicting a series of lineage teachers. In those cases the entire set of compositions is intended to be displayed together as a unit, a single work of art made up of many individual compositions.

The images in this gallery appear to be essentially single compositions intended to stand alone. In the Taglung paintings for example the secondary figures at the top are uniformly the early Dagpo Kagyu Lineage. The secondary figures at the sides and bottom register are also fairly uniform: miscellaneous lineage teachers, Bodhisattvas, Eight Mahasiddhas, Four Guardian Kings, Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini, Hayagriva, Kurukulla, Aparajita, Jambhala, Vasudhara, Mahakala and Shri Devi Dorje Rabtenma.

If the right and left facing central figures were intended to be compositions belonging to a set of lineage teachers then why is the iconographic program of the secondary figures in the Taglung style paintings almost identical from one to the next? If the paintings are from larger sets of compositions then why have no matching compositions been identified and reunited as yet?

Jeff Watt 5-2013 [updated 8-2017]