Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

10.3 Milarepa

Scenes of his Life

1. 2. Thöpaga [= young Milarepa] and his friends meet Lama Yangtön 3. He says 'good bye' to his friends 4. On his way back he finds some manure which he uses to enrich the soil of Lama Yangtöns garden 5. Lama Yangtön observes from the roof top with approval and affection while he works 6. Thögpaga offers the gown which the teacher has just given him as a parting gift, and again asks tuition in magic that will be sufficiently effective to avenge his family 7. Thöpaga arrives at Nub Khulung together with Lama Yangtöns son 8. They meet the young Lama of Nub 9. Thögpaga practises his mag8c; helpers bring him the heads of 35 human beings 10. The guests talks together on their way to the wedding ceremony 11. A maid see the stable full of scorpions. Full of fear the horses are kicking it into pieces 12. Uncle and aunt mournfully take counsel together 13. Thögpagas sister runs to her mother to tell her the news 14. Yoyfully the mother hoists a ragged garment on a pole and gives vent to her anger 15. A maid servant informed Nyangsta Kargyen about the plan of uncle and aunt to destroy her and her son 16. A Yogi begs in front of the house 17. Nyangsta Kagyen invited him in to be a messenger to her son 18. Thöpaga´s mother uses a butter lamp to tell fortunes 19. Cunningly she hides gold in the cloak of the Yogi and gives him a letter for Thöpaga 20. A false letter from Thöpaga containing threats to her enemies is prepared, and given to her own brother to be shown to the people. 21. The Yogi delivers the letter of Thöpaga´s mother to him 22. Thögpaga reads the letter of his mother 23. Thöpagas invites the Yogi to come in 24. The wife of the Lama serves refreshments to the Yogi and asks for his cloak 25. She takes the cloak with her upstairs, and takes out the gold 26. She gives the gold to Thögpaga 27. Thögpaga walks back to Lama Yangtön 28. He meets Lama Yangtön and asks for teachings of the hail charm. He is taught the hailcharm 29. He succeeds after a weeks practising in a cell 30. Together with a friend he performs his charm to create a great hailstorm. 31. He hits his coat because his charm does not work immediately 32. The great hail storm destroys the harvest 33. Thögpaga and his friend hide in a cave and make a fire 34. The smoke is seen by some passers by, who suspect his identity and run to fetch the angry villagers 35. The villagers attack Thögpagas friend 36. Thögpaga is bitten by a dog

This sophisticated and elegant painting comes from a famous series of nineteen Thangkas on the life of Milarepa obtained in Beijing in 930 by the Sven Hedin expedition. This set follows the biographical details preserved in the Life of Milarepa and the Collected Songs of Milarepa. It represents a high point in the development of one of the major styles of Tibetan biographical painting

In this style, the image of the lama or adept is placed in the center of the painting as a large hierarchical figure, surrounded by the unfolding scenes from his or her life presented within a landscape setting. Here, in the third tangka of this series, Milarepa is shown seated in front of a leafy cave bower, his hands laid flat in his lap in the contemplation gesture. His white cotton robes, decorated with gold floral designs, flow with a dexterous and fluid line over his perfectly proportioned body. His face is portrayed with an exceptionally lyrical and idealistic beauty.

The quality of line and colour tends to lift the entire painting beyond the realm of the real, but the vivid action of the figures and the engrossing narrative details of the events unfolding in each scene surrounding Milarepa counteract the idealised aspect of the style and keep the work rooted in reality. This reflects a constant principle in Buddhist art; like the Teaching itself, it does not forsake this world but freely chooses to engage with it.

Each scene is clearly labeled, and the events flow and unfold with a compelling rhythm, generally following a compositional scheme startling from the lower left and moving to the top. The scenes here, as worked out in Toni Schmid's masterful study, depict a Period in Milarepa's life before he embarked on his Buddhist practice Mila's father died when he was only seven. Mila's mother and her two children were then cheated out Of their inheritance by a greedy paternal uncle and his wife. Eventually, Mila┬┤s mother sent him to learn black magic in order to take revenge.

Mila was successful in his sorcery, and as the right side of the Thangka shows, he destroys the family house, in which his uncle's son is having his wedding feast. He conjures up a scorpion, which frightens the horses, who in their fright kick the pillars, causing the house to collapse and kill most of the uncle's family. When the villagers still threaten his mother, he produces a hailstorm that destroys one of his uncle's fields. The action is seen here on two separate planes: Mila in his small cell performing the charm in the lower left and the resulting hailstorm taking place in the upper right. Mila and a friend go to watch the hailstorm from a cave nearby, but he is recognised by the angry villagers, who take up arms and come to get him. These acts of black magic later caused Milarepa much remorse. Convinced that he would be punished for them in hell, he sought spiritual guidance with a firm resolve.

After he found his primary master, the translator Marpa, he dedicated himself totally to practice.

Figures, landscape, and houses all freely commingle to create the story elements. Green and pink clouds, blue and green hills edged in gold, and groups of trees help to separate the various scenes. Simple but colourful architecture and smoothly graded washes of green create the shadowless planes of the spacious setting. The lyrical beauty of the fluid line combines with the sharp reality of clear, brilliant colour and the harmonious juxtaposition of figures and landscape to create the beautiful synthesis that characterises this style.

Description from "Tibet, its Buddhism, and its art" published 1996 by Harry N. Abraham, Incorporated, New York in "Wisdomand Compassion, the sacred at of Tibet"

Measurements: 23.6 x 36.2" | 60 x 92 cm
Price: on request
Shipment: Parcel Service from Germany or Nepal
Color: Color Version
Material: Natural Stone Colors