Dharmapala Thangka CentreTibetan Antiques

Tsonkhapa Refuge Tree

Field of Accumulation of Merit

Full View Detail 1 Detail 2 Detail 3: Top left Budda of Future Maitreya in a sitting position Detail 4 Detail 5: Top right red Buddha Amitabha Detail 6

This large old thangka from the 18th or 19th century is framed a magnificent original brocade fabric edged in the style of Central Tibet. Rarely can you still find old scroll paintings with an intact brocade.

In the center of the thangka is Tsongkhapa [* 1357 † 1419], the founder of the Gelug lineage.

On the top left you can see the seated Buddha of the future Maitreya and on the top right the red Buddha Amitabha.

Three rays of light emanate from the central figure of Tsongkhapa and end in assemblies of venerable masters of the Gelug school. The stems of the two lotus flowers that flank him supports the Book of Transcendent Wisdom, further showing his relation with Manjushri.

Tsongkhapa was one of the greatest Tibetan lamas. His disciples, especially the first Dalai Lamas, spread his teachings, following the example of their teacher and his far-reaching activities. The school prospered to such an extent that by the time of the 5th Dalai Lama [1617-1682] it had become the largest school in Tibet in terms of numbers and also triggered the expansion of the other schools. Tsongkhapa was revered as a national hero, an incarnation of the bodhisattva Manjushri.

When the succession of gurus and disciples had already multiplied considerably in Tibet, it became a popular custom to depict the family tree of spiritual succession in a kind of cosmic world tree on which all the saints, buddhas and deities of the corresponding school are united. This particular thangka category is called "krung rabs" in Tibetan.

The Refuge Tree is a form of inner refuge that Tibetans take during each stage of their meditation.

This magnificent image describes in its entirety the religious, philosophical, cultural and historical synthesis created by Tsongkhapa and embodied by the Gelug School. The entire image of the Great Gathering Tree appears to the practicing believer in his mind's eye in a space that exudes a radiant glow of spiritual rainbow light. Such a vision can create a place of calm clarity and pervasive brightness into which one can immerse oneself to meditate on the object of one's spiritual practices.

More Details

The four celestial guardian kings or 'Lokapalas' of the four cardinal directions [Vaisravana/Kubera, Virupaksa, Virudhaka and Dhritarashtra] are also depicted.

On the lowest level of tree branches are the fierce protectors favored by the Gelug Order.

Below the crown of the tree, four snow lions can be seen to the right and left of its trunk respectively.

This tree rises from a deep blue sea. On the shore below, to the right, stands a lama worshipping the arrangement above and holding up an offering. In front of him is a table with ritual objects.

The picture is relatively well preserved, there is no textile damage on the painting. The trunk at the bottom has color loss. When you enlarge the image, moreover, it is noticeable that some subtleties of the details are no longer completely visible.

The fabric is slightly damaged at the top in one place and there are a few more horizontal smaller tears. However, both are not visible when the scroll picture is hung.

Total 65.6 x 34.4 " / 164 x 86 cm - Painting 28.9 x 13.8 " / 85 x 56 cm

Second example with additional explanations

Price: on request
High resolution: Display [2.4 MB, 2153 x 3931 px.]