Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Name Inscription - Misidentified or Name Added

Name Inscription: Misidentified or Name Added |

Name inscriptions on both painting and sculpture that purport to identify the artist and possibly the donor can be confusing and complicated which can lead to inaccurate identifications.

The Main Topics Are:
- Interpreting the name incorrectly
- Reading the name incorrectly
- Inscriptions added later

The works below each have a name inscription. The four paintings, two Chakrasamvara and two Vajrayogini, have the name inscription of Kunzig Chokyi Nangwa (1768-1822). This name in the past has been construed with Situ Panchen Chokyi Jungne (Chokyi Nangwa) (1700-1774) and claims have been made that the four paintings were the work of Situ Panchen. It is true that the childhood name of Situ Panchen was Chokyi Nangwa but he never had or used the title of 'kunzig.'

The black ground painting of Bernag Chen Mahakala while in the style of Choying Dorje, the 10th Karmapa, it bears an inscription at the bottom right claiming to be "Without error this painting of the Five Retinue was done by the hand of Chojung." It is possible that this Chojung could be the Situ Panchen Chokyi Junge with the spelling of his name contracted because of space allowances. Or, maybe it is by another artist named Chojung. Or maybe it is by Karmapa Choying Dorje and somehow mislabeled. It is worth noting that there are at least four misspellings in the short Tibetan inscription. Is it possible that the 'byung is another misspelling for dbyings and the inscription should read 'by the hand of Choying [Dorje]?

The four sculpture below are inscribed and state that they are by the hand of the 10th Karmapa Choying Dorje.

The standing figure reads "By the hand of Jetsun Choying Dorje." The seated figure with the throne and torana reads "By the hand of the body of Lokeshvara, the Powerful Conqueror, Choying Dorje." The inscriptions naming 'Choying Dorje' would not likely have been made by the hand of Choying Dorje because there is an artistic tradition of having some sense of humility among religious teachers and artists. This tradition of humility however does not extend to written publications. The inscriptions therefore were likely inscribed later by either a devoted servant or a later follower who might believe, for various reasons, that a certain sculpture was by the hand of a revered teacher or famous artist.

Sculpture such as these cannot be taken at face value and must be studied carefully for stylistic characteristics and for clues about the artist's identity.

Other Topics:
- Name Inscription: Misidentified or Added
- Cityscapes & Holy Mountains Pilgrimage Art
- Depictions of the Lhasa Jowo
- Pilgrimage Paintings
- Temple Shop Art
- Decorative Art: Over Restoration
- Suspect Art
- Fake Art (Forgery)

Jeff Watt 3-2015