Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Tradition: Khyenri - Four Styles of Iconographic Subjects

Khyenri Art History | Khyenri Iconography

Four Styles of Iconographic Subjects:
- Teacher Figures
- Peaceful Deities
- Wrathful Deities (including black ground)
- Mandalas

A painting style is often discussed in a general manner with the origins arising from a single artist or a specific region. With any identifiable style it has to be supported by examples of art. With any established and influential style of painting then it also has to be recognized and discussed with reference to the four prominent Buddhist iconographic subjects. What are the subjects? They are teacher figures, peaceful deities, wrathful deities and mandalas. The Khyenri style and later Khyenri tradition has these four subjects, but not all Tibetan styles and traditions have the four subjects.

The four iconographic subjects are important because they don't all share the same stylistic characteristics. So, what does that mean? Does it mean that Khyenri has four different styles right from the beginning? In a way, yes, that is what it means. Teacher figures are drawn in a manner that is different from peaceful and wrathful deities. The backgrounds, landscape and colour combinations are different between the varied subjects.

Jeff Watt 8-2020

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).