Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Set: Teacher & Buddha Life Story

Teacher & Buddha Life Story | Drugpa Kagyu | Lhatog Painting Style

An inscription found below the throne on image HAR #2204 seems to make reference to a Drokun Gawa'i Shenyen ('gro kun dga' ba'i bshes gnyen) a 17th/18th century Drugpa Kagyu Lama from Eastern Tibet [Tbrc P5051]. However that doesn't necessarily mean that the central figure is that person. In the short biography of Gawa'i Shenyen he claims to be the rebirth of another famous Drugpa Kagyu teacher named Ngagwang Zangpo (1546-1615 [P874]) whose life was curiously charted based on the life story and special events of the Buddha's life.

This highly unusual composition depicts a Tibetan teacher as the central figure of each composition with the secondary figures and scenes depicting the life story of Shakyamuni Buddha. The complete set of paintings likely contained 11, 13 or 15 compositions in total. However, only these three are currently accounted for.

Painting #2204, descending on the right side of the composition, depicts scenes from the early life of the bodhisattva prince as a young man engaged in entertainment, wrestling, swimming, archery contests and elephant riding. Descending on the left side are scenes of the birth of his son Rahula and engaged in reading and study.

Painting #77195 depicts scenes of the Buddha Shakyamuni shortly after the enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. At the top left he teaches to the five first students and the four great Hindu gods, Brahma, Indra, Vishnu and Shiva.

Painting #2203 depicts the fifteen miracles at Shravasti (ston pas chos 'phrul bstan pa'i mdzad pa).

Jeff Watt 12-2016