Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Set: Panchen Lama (Newark Museum, Set 1)

Panchen Lama (Newark Museum, Set 1) | Panchen Lama (Nartang Style Composition)

A three composition painting set depicting the Panchen Lama Incarnation Lineage.

Currently only a single composition, #2 (right 1), is known to exist in the collection of the Newark Museum. The three paintings are based on the iconography and style of the Nartang block print thirteen painting set. (See the Nartang Panchen iconographhy page).

At the center and facing to the viewer's right is Chokyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662) [11] the 1st Panchen Lama. At the upper right is Bhaviveka (late 1st millenium) [3]. At the upper left is Go Lotsawa Kugpa Lhatse (11th century) [5]. At the lower right is Yungton Dorje Pal (1284-1365) [7]. At the lower left is Sonam Choglang (1438-1505) [9].

In the 13 composition Nartang set of paintings these five are numbered 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 and represent a majority of the odd numbers when beginning with Subhuti as painting #1 . These figures also represent five that are situated on the viewer's left side when looking at the complete set hung on a wall as they were intended when on public display.

The composition on the left of center (viewer's right) would depict Lobzang Yeshe (1663-1737), the 2nd Panchen Lama [12], at the center with Abhayakara Gupta [4] at the top left. Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251)at the top right [6]. Kedrub Geleg Pal Zangpo (1385-1438) at the bottom left [8] and Ensapa Lobzang Dondrub (1505-1564) at the bottom right [10].

The center composition of the three painting set would depict Lobzang Palden Yeshe, the 3rd Panchen Lama (1738-1780). At his right side would be Subhuti [1] and on the left Yashas/Manjukirti [2].

In each of the three compositions there are three levels of visual hierarchy. First is the largest figure at the center. Secondly, there are the four smaller figures of pre-incarnations in the right and left paintings and the two side figures of the center painting. Thirdly, there are the small depictions of the accompanying figures that are found in the Nartang block print compositions. In those paintings there is always a teacher above at the right or left, a meditational deity above, and at the bottom a wisdom or worldly protector deity. All of these Nartang secondary and tertiary elements are contained in the three painting set depicted here. Each and every figure found in the Nartang compositions are repeated here in detail in this very crowded composition.

Jeff Watt 8-2013