Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Footprints & Handprints Main Page

Footprints & Handprints Masterworks

- Art History

- Iconography

- Religious Context

The Tibetan custom of having drawings done based on the physical outline of a teachers feet appears to be an oral instruction coming down from Gampopa Sonam Rinchen. The most famous early text describing this practice was written by Pagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo - a direct student of Gampopa. A number of early paintings are known that depict the feet of Drigung and Taglung teachers. Currently there are only about four paintings known - in the East or the West - depicting a Karmapa with footprints.

Jeff Watt 11-2010 [updated 5-2017]

(See the publication Eternal Presence. Handprints and Footprints in Buddhist Art. Kathryn Selig Brown. Katonah Museum of Art, 2004).