Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Set: Dalai Lama Incarnations (Beijing)

Dalai Lama Incarnation Set (Beijing) | Dalai Lama Main Page | Dalai Lama: Incarnation Painting Sets | 7th Dalai Lama Kalzang Gyatso Main Page

The central (tsowo) composition of this thirteen painting set is Kalzang Gyatso (1708-1757), the 7th Dalai Lama. The remaining twelve compositions alternate to the right and left sides beginning with the earlier incarnations such as Khasarpani and King Konchog Bang. The original set was most certainly designed during the lifetime of Kalzang Gyatso. This particular copy of the original set was most likely gifted to the Qianlong Emperor of China during the visit of the 3rd Panchen Lama, Palden Yeshe (1738-1780).

The composition of the Dalai Lama Incarnation painting set is remarkably close in composition and style to the famous Panchen Lama Incarnation set. On the bottom of each painting of the Panchen set is an inscription which briefly describes the four or five figures in the composition. It is not clear whether or not the Dalai set has a bottom front inscription. A unique feature of the Dalai set is the addition in each composition of a different site location and architectural feature.

The Panchen set was further carved onto wood blocks at Nartang Monastery and used for the creation of dozens of copies. Some of these printed copies were used as drawing models and then painted. Other copies were sent to the loom mills of Hangzhou, China, and machine woven copies were made in the hundred.

Figures & Architecture:
Center Composition: 7th Dalai Lama Kalzang Gyatso (1708-1757)
1st right, Khasarpani Lokeshvara
1st left, King Konchog Bang
2nd right, King Songtsen Gampo (569–649?/605–649?) & the Jokhang Temple
2nd left, Dromton Gyalwai Jungne (1004-1064) & Reting Monastery
3rd right, Sachen Kung Nyingpo (1092-1158) & Sakya Temple
3rd left, Chogyal Pagpa Lodro Gyaltsen (1235-1280) & Lhakang Chenmo
4th right, 1st Dalai Lama Gendun Druba (1391-1474) & Tashi Lhunpo
4th left, 2nd Dalai Lama Gendun Gyatso (1476-1542)
5th right, 3rd Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588)
5th left, 4th Dalai Lama Yontan Gyatso (1589-1617)
6th right, 5th Dalai Lama Lobzang Gyatso (1617-1682) & the Potala Palace
6th left, 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso (1683-1706/46)

Jeff Watt 2-2016