Himalayan Art Resources

Indian Adept: Tilopa Main Page

Tilopa Masterworks

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Pounding Seseme
- Holding a Fish
- Biography
- Identifiable Mahasiddhas
- Five Contexts
- Study Guide
- Mahasiddha Main Page
- Confusions: Luipa
- Others...

Video: Mahasiddha Tilopa

Key Points:
- Important for tantric lineages & teachings (Sakya, Kagyu)
- Named in the Eighty-four Great Siddha sets
- Not Named in the Eight Great Siddha Sets
- Recognizable: fish, gesture & skullcup

Tilopa is famous for promoting several different systems of Tantric practice such as Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini. He is included in most of the systems of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas, but not included in the Eight Great Siddha sets.

All of the examples below, painting and sculpture, belong to sets depicting either one of the many listings of the Eighty-four Great Mahasiddhas or the Mahamudra lineage of the Kagyu tradition. Tilopa is rarely created as an individual subject without a larger context of understanding and accompanied by related figures.

Context in Art:
- Lineage Depiction (Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini, others)
- Eighty-four Mahasiddhas
- Dagpo Kagyu Lineage
- Others...

Tilopa is easily confused with the mahasiddha Luipa as both figures can be depicted holding a fish. More properly, Luipa holds fish entrails. Tilopa is also commonly shown with the right hand performing a gesture and the left hand holding a skullcup. This latter iconographic form is more often found with the Mahamudra lineage sets.

Chakrasamvara Lineage, Abisheka, Root Tantra and Commentary: Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Maha Brahmin Saraha, Acharya Nagarjuna, The Protector Shavari, Luipa, Darikapa, Vajra Ghantapa, Kumarapada, Jalandharapa, Krishnapa, Guhyapa, Nampar Gyalwai Shap, The Acharya Barmai Lobpon, Tilopa, Naropa, (the two) Pamtingpa Kuche Nyi, Lama Lokkya Sherab Tseg, Lama Mal Lotsawa, The Lord of Dharma Sakyapa (1092-1158).

Database Search: All Images

Jeff Watt [updated 1-2020]