Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Set: Vajravali (Lama Dampa Set)

Vajravali (Lama Dampa Set) | Vajravali Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types;
- Painting Set Description (below)
- Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen
- Vajravali Contents List
- Mandala Main Page
- Confusions
- Others...

Painting list according to number:
- Painting #4: Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja
- Painting #19: Marichi
- Painting #26: Panchadaka Hevajra
- Others...

There are three mysteries concerning this famous set of Vajravali mandala paintings. The first is [1] 'where were the paintings made,' [2] 'when were the paintings made,' and 'who commissioned the set of paintings?' (Read more from the description of the Panchadaka Hevajra painting.

A set of twenty-six, twenty-eight or forty-two mandalas, as described in the Vajravali Sanskrit text of Abhayakaragupta (11th century), commissioned in honour of Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen (1312-1375) by Chen-nga Chenpo (1310-1370) the son of Pagdru Jangchub Gyaltsen. Chen-nga was offered the title of Chen-nga when he returned to Densatil in the 1360s, however he passed away before Lama Dampa. Is it possible that this set of paintings was created to honour Lama Dampa by his devoted student while both were still alive which would place the date of creation roughly between 1365 and 1370?

The full name inscription of Lama Dampa (at the top center of each composition) and the donor figure (at the bottom right or left) are so far only found on one of the known paintings from the set. (See the Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja, HAR #58302).

There are eleven paintings below and possibly as many as seventeen known compositions from this painting set. There was likely a central painting accompanying the equal number of paintings making for a total of 27, 29, 43 or 45 paintings.

The manuscript illumination of Lama Dampa immediately to the right side with the elaborate crown and the hands holding a vajra and bell in an embracing gesture is almost identical to the depictions of Lama Dampa as he is shown in the top register (center) of each and every known painting in the set.

Jeff Watt 7-2009 [updated 9-2016]