Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

4.41 Manjushri & Maitreya

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Original antique painting:
Central regions, Tibet; probably Tsang - Mid-16th century
Thangka; gouache on cotton - 31,5x 27 " [80 x 68.6 cm] Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Manjushri und Maitreya in discourse was a theme favored by Atisha, the Indian Master who came to Tibet in the mid-11th century and whose chief disciple, Drom Tompa [later retroactively honored as the first Dalai Lama incarnation in Tibet], was the founder of the Kadampa Order. They represent respectively the profound wisdom view and the magnificent compassion deeds that constitute the path of enlightenment.

The two Bodhisattvas are portrayed in this painting seated in elaborate lacquer chairs surrounded by numerous smaller figures. Their elegant white bodies, turned slightly toward each other, contrast the subdued tones of their garments and the overall dark atmosphere in which they seem almost to be drifting. Along the vertical central axis from the top to the bottom are Shakyamuni Buddha and the famous group of Indian masters known as the »Six Ornaments an Two Superiors«, who are arranged on two sides of him, including Nagarjuna and Asange close by on either side.

A pair of Tibetan lama figures occupies each other corner. In the very center of the composition sits a tiny white Padmapani Avalokiteshvara, with one foot down in the posture of royal ease, suggesting the inspired speaker of the Perfect Wisdom Heart Essence Sutra.

On the bottom row, there is a monk donor figure in the lower left corner, and then four protector deities, a Green tara, a standing Vaishravana, a seated Jambhala, and a standing four-armed Mahakala. [*]

Thed clothing of the two main Bodhisattvas is loose and fluid in the Chinese style and their ornamentation is elegant. The degree of Ming-period style in the garments and chairs and the prevalence of dark coloration point to some possible relation with the Khyenri style, which, judging from the wall paintings of the Gongkar Chöde Monastery by Jamyang Khyentse Wangchuk, founder of the Khyenri school, incorporates a lyrical freedom of line and subdued, somewhat dark color tonality.

The halo from in the thangkais also distinctive, which widely spread zigzag golden lines, different from the fine, narrowly spaced golden lines used ca. late. 16th century. Unlike the rich, brilliant color of many earlier paintings, this painting style emphasizes the elegant beauty of line and spatial component in the placement of the figures.

[*] Modified to a lay figure in this painting
Source: Wisdom and Compassion - The Sacred Art of Tibet
by Marylin M. Rhie and Robert A.F. Thurman
No. 176 - Page 423

Measurements: 17.7 x 20.7" | 45.0 x 52.5 cm
Price: 1290 $ | 1200 €
Shipment: Parcel Service from Germany
Color: Color Version
Material: Natural Stone Colors
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