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Tibet

Tsong Khapa and attendants

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Object Details

Culture

Tibet

Date

early 15th century

Medium

Thangka: opaque watercolors and gold on cloth

Dimensions

27 3/4 × 22 3/4 inches (70.5 × 57.8 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the George and Mary Rockwell Fund

Object
Number

2004.013

This early depiction of Tsong Khapa (1357–1419), reformer and founder of the Geluk (Yellow Hat) Or(…)

This early depiction of Tsong Khapa (1357–1419), reformer and founder of the Geluk (Yellow Hat) Order of Tibetan Buddhism, shows him seated on a lion throne, flanked by his disciples Gyaltsab and Kedrub. Tsong Khapa’s hands are in the mudra (gesture) of teaching, and he holds lotus blossoms supporting a sword and a book, both attributes of Manjusri, Bodhisattva of Wisdom, of whom he is considered an incarnation. Surrounding him are other important lamas (teachers) and deities. The Dalai Lama serves as leader of the Geluk Order. Fierce multiarmed deities below represent important protectors of the Gelukpa sect. From left to right, they are Thirteen-Deity Yamantaka, Mahakala, Penden Lhamo, Vaishravana, and Yama Dharmapala.The Johnson has a rich collection of Tibetan thangkas, sacred paintings on cloth whose purpose is to aid meditation on the Buddhist teacher or deity represented, and thus help the viewer make spiritual progress. The Johnson’s rich collection of Tibetan art is one of the many areas of the Asian collection that has been strengthened and expanded under the twenty-year tenure of the Museum’s curator of Asian art, Ellen Avril. (“Highlights from the Collection: 45 Years at the Johnson,” curated by Stephanie Wiles and presented at the Johnson Museum January 27–July 22, 2018)

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