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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EAST COAST COLLECTION

A THANGKA DEPICTING TWO SAKYA LINEAGE HOLDERS Central Tibet, Ngor Monastery, 18th Century
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 87,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
238

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EAST COAST COLLECTION

A THANGKA DEPICTING TWO SAKYA LINEAGE HOLDERS Central Tibet, Ngor Monastery, 18th Century
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 87,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art Including Property from The Cleveland Museum of Art

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New York

A THANGKA DEPICTING TWO SAKYA LINEAGE HOLDERS Central Tibet, Ngor Monastery, 18th Century
Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13413.
image: 39 by 27 in. (99.1 by 68.6 cm)
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Catalogue Note

This richly illustrated painting portrays two religious masters from the Ngor subsect of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism[1]. An inscription written in dbu chen identifies the thirty-fourth abbot of Ngor Monastery in Central Tibet, Pälden Chökyong (dpal ldan chos skyong) (1702–1759), who held office between 1733 and 1740. A long epithet describes him as an emanation of Vajradhara (rdo rje ’chang), the All-Pervading Lord of the Hundred Buddha Families (rigs brgya’ i khyab bdag):

Homage to the All-Pervading Lord of the Hundred (Buddha) Families, Vajradhara Palden Chökyong.

The title ‘vajra holder’ (vajradhara) is commonly used to describe the great abbots of Ngor (ngor mkhan chen). Incidentally, Buddha Vajradhara himself presides over all the figures at the top of this painting. The anonymous master on the left is likely to be Ngorchen Künga Zangpo (ngor chen kun dga’ bzang po) (1382–1456) who founded Ngor Evam Chöden Monastery in 1429. The attributes with which he is represented (red pandita hat, vajra, and bell) generally conform to other known representations[2].

The whole composition is enshrined in the Sakya tradition, headed by the five great founders of the Sakyapa order (sa skya gong ma rnam lnga) represented above the two portraits. Other iconographical themes include the five protector deities in the lower register and the seven precious emblems of royalty (rgyal srid sna ldun), to name just a few.

A donor inscription written in ’bru tsha style is also visible on the silk brocade:

This magnificent thangka painting along with the canopy in the communal house of Minyak at Evam [Chöden Monastery] were donated by the one born in Tibet, Lama Rinchen Lhündrup, for granting good fortune in this life and the next. May this be auspicious!

It asserts that the present painting (sku thang) and a canopy (bla bre) were offered by a Tibetan lama to the communal house (spyi khang) of the Minyak people (mi nyag) at Ngor Evam Chöden Monastery. Like other major centres of learning in Tibet, Ngor Monastery was composed of several regional houses (spyi khang) or colleges (khang tshan).

The donor, who was born in Tibet (bod skyes pa), is identified as Rinchen Lhundrup (rin chen lhun grub). According to Pälden Chökyong’s biography, Ngor mkhan chen dpal ldan chos skyong zhabs kyi rnam thar[3], Rinchen Lhundrup served under the thirty-fourth abbot of Ngor as his domestic chaplain and master of ceremonies.  

Rinchen Lhundrup served the thirty-fourth abbot of Ngor as his domestic chaplain and master of ceremonies (mchod dpon). Finally, the back side of this painting bears two identical consecratory inscriptions and mantras behind each hierarch. It includes the canonical Sanskrit formula, Ye dharmā hetu, written in Tibetan script, as well as the so-called ‘patience creed’ verse.

For extended essay with footnotes for further reading, please see Sotheby.com

Essay and translation by Yannick Laurent

[1] See Jörg Heimbel. 2014. Ngor chen Kun dga’ bzang po (1382–1456): An Investigation into the Life and Times of the Founder of the Ngor Subschool of the Sa skya Order. Ph.D. thesis, Universität Hamburg; ibid (forthcoming. Vajradhara in Human Form: The Life and Times of Ngor chen Kun dga’ bzang po. Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute.

[2] http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=306

[3] https://www.tbrc.org/#!rid=W10419

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art Including Property from The Cleveland Museum of Art

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New York