Sanggye Sengge (1504-1569)

16th century

Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art

This painting depicts the eleventh abbot of Ngor Monastery, Sanggye Sengge (1504-1569), a great patron of the arts, holding a golden vase of longevity. Signs of venerable age, such as silver stubble of hair and a receding hairline, suggest this is a somewhat realistic painting of the master, in the last years of his life.

The painting belongs to a famous series of portraits depicting the Ngor Monastery abbots and teachers of the Path with the Fruit (Lam 'bras) lineage that was commissioned in the late sixteenth century, the last-known major set of its type in the Nepalese-inspired, or Beri, style. It prominently employs Nepalese decorative scrollwork and the late Beri palate, which features blues and greens. The elegant five-lobed arch around the main figure is supported by ornate pillars, a continuation of Tibet's earlier Indian-modeled painting tradition.

The inscription on the back of this work in the shape of a stupa combines mantras and prayers taken from the Pratimoksha Sutra and is framed by the repeated use of the mantra requesting the essence of the deities to abide in the painting.

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  • Title: Sanggye Sengge (1504-1569)
  • Date: 16th century
  • Date Created: 16th century
  • Physical Dimensions: 30 1/2 x 26 1/4 in.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, F1996.26.1
  • Medium: Pigments on cloth
  • Place of Creation: Ngor Ewam Choden Monastery, Tsang Province, Central Tibet
  • Exhibition History: Rubin Museum of Art, "Flip Side: The Unseen in Tibetan Art" (03/15/13 - 02/10/14), Rubin Museum of Art, "The Nepalese Legacy in Tibetan Painting" (09/03/10 - 05/23/11), Rubin Museum of Art, "What is it? Himalayan Art" (06/25/07 - 02/09/09), Tibet House Cultural Center, New York, NY, "Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion" (04/27/99 - 09/25/99)