Gum tempera on sized cotton
Overall: 51.4 x 39.4 cm (20 1/4 x 15 1/2 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1987.146
The Five Cosmic Buddhas in their six-armed forms are aligned at the top.
High-level leaders of Buddhist monastic institutions were frequent portrait subjects of early thangka painting (devotional cloth scrolls) in Central Tibet. The lama (Tibetan monk) on the right founded Taklung Monastery in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, which became an important institutional center of the Kagyu order. He is shown in discourse with his predecessor, whose teacher Gampopa (1079–1153), in turn, is the tiny gray-haired lama centered above them, between the colorful stylized mountain ranges.
Their halos, lotus pedestal, and thrones with spitting elephant-trunked crocodiles and rearing griffins elevate them to the level of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Despite their deification, they are still depicted with individualized facial features.
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