The highly important thanka depicting the lineage of the Nyö masters, the central image depicting Drupapal enthroned within a stylized mountain setting, with the Indian masters of the lineage at either side including Balin, Mitraba, Karnapa, Yigepa and Peldipa, with Manjuvajra, Vajrasattva and Vajradhara above flanked by Tibetan monks to the left and the dakini Nayashri to the right, two scenes depicting masters in debate either side of Drupapal’s halo, the scene to the left with two Tibetan lay masters of the lineage, and to the right an Indian monk teaching a Tibetan student, the lower register depicting the blue bull-headed ithyphallic Yamantaka flanked by scenes of investiture and a stupa with Manjughosha.
Pratapaditya Pal, Tibetan Paintings, Basel, 1984, pl. 6.
Jane Casey Singer, ‘An Early Painting from Tibet’, Orientations, July 1986, pp. 41-5.
Marylin M. Rhie and Robert A. F. Thurman, Worlds of Transformation, Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion, New York, 1999, p. 51, fig. 8.
Hugo E. Kreijger, Tibetan Painting, The Jucker Collection, Boston, 2001, p. 72, no. 21.
This remarkable thanka continues a tradition of eastern Indian style painting known to Tibetans from the beginning of the Chidar, the Later Diffusion of the Buddhist Faith in Tibet, towards the end of the tenth century. The narrow multi-colored and geometric-form mountains that fill the background of the picture are depicted in very similar fashion in mediaeval eastern Indian manuscript illumination, as noted by Pal; see Pal, 1984, appendix. As are the leaves of the pipal trees above Drupapal's mountain sanctuary; compare a twelfth century eastern Indian manuscript illumination from Vikramashila monastery; see Kossak and Casey Singer, 1999, p. 34, figure 16. The composition of the Jucker painting is much the same as the renowned Ford Tara which is speculated to have been painted by an eastern Indian artist, or one well versed in the current eastern Indian styles; see Pal, 1984, appendix; and Kossak and Casey Singer, 1999, pp. 54-9, no 3. As in the Ford Tara the mountains provide the dwelling place of the gods, siddhas and lamas. Both in the Ford and the Jucker painting the pricipal subject is set against a deep blue lobed space with red jeweled festoons. Trees are depicted behind the mountains at the top of each painting, palms in the Ford Tara, pipal in the Jucker Lama. And lotus tendrils burgeon in each. The identification of the lineage of the Jucker painting, and the date of ca. 1200, is suggested by interpretation of the many inscriptions verso by Eva Allinger; see Kreijger, 2001, p.72.
The painting remains one of the most important early thankas from Tibet, revealing the height of Tibetan artistic achievement and providing an invaluable document of the cultural and artistic exchange between Tibetans and eastern Indians in the mediaeval period.
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