Hwajeong Museum

Hwajeong Museum
Seoul, South Korea

This thangka depicts a lama wearing a red pandit's hat in the centre with Vajradhara above, Gur-gyi-mgon-po below flanked by Dharma-protecting deities, and surrounded by lamas. Along the very bottom there is an inscription in gold letters written in regular dbu can script, according to which this thangka was produced by relatives and disciples so that the lama's "whishes may be fulfilled" and presented to the Second Akanistha Heaven, E-vam Monastery in the year water-male-rat called kun ldan. The artist is said to have been a young disciple called Dar-rgyas-bzang-po. The name of the central figure is not mentioned in the inscription, but on the protective cloth covering the thangka there is written in cursive dbu med script "for the relics blazing with the right of the empowerment of Reverend Manjughosa Dharma-lord, dKon-mchog-lhun-grub", indicating that this thangka was offered up to the reliquary of a lama named dKon-mchog-lhun-grub.
A search for a person matching the above description brought to light the fact that the tenth abbot of Ngor E-vam Monastery, the chief monastery of the Ngor branch of the Sa-skya-pa school, was called dKon-mchog-lhun-grub and that he was the author of many books and was known as the "Great One of Ngor"(Ngor-chen). All sources agree that he was born in 1497, but the date of his death is given variously as 1541, 1547 or 1557. Meanwhile, the expression "so that the lama's wishes may be fulfilled" is often found in thangkas produced in memory of a deceased lama. The year kun ldan during dKon-mchog-lhun-grub's lifetime corresponds to the year iron male-rat(1540), which is twelve years earlier than the year water-male-rat (1552) mentioned in the inscription, and there must be some error.
Be that as it may, this is a remarkable work produced in the mid-sixteenth century as Ngor Monastery, which had considerable influence also on the history of Tibetan Buddhist art, and one of which we know even the artist's name. It is well-executed and in good condition, and is one of the finest thangkas in the Hwajeong Museum's collection.

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  • Title: dKon-mchog-lhun-grub
  • Creator: ANONYMOUS
  • Location created: Tibet
  • Physical Dimensions: 190.0×142.0cm
  • Subject Keywords: Tibet, Tibetan Painting, Thangka, Lama
  • Type: Buddhist Painting, Thangka
  • Publisher: Hwajeong Museum
  • Rights: Hwajeong Museum
  • Medium: polychrome on cotton