Tibet, Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen

16th century, Tibet, Sonam Gyaltsen, gilt copper alloy, published on

16th century, Tibet, Sonam Gyaltsen, gilt copper alloy, photo by Lauritz.

Dampa Sönam Gyaltsen Palzangpo (1312-1375) is seated in the lotus position, one hand  over his knee, the other holding a manuscript written in sanskrit. He is wrapped in a patched robe and a meditation cloak richly incised with a lotus design on the back. His ample garments cover his feet and the cushion on which he is seated. The base has a single row of very broad lotus petals curled up at the tip and a row of thick beading. We will notice the broad geometrical line of the eyebrows and the idealised facial features.

16th century, Tibet, copper alloy with copper inlay, Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

16th century, Tibet, brass and copper, Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Here, on the other hand, this famous teacher or lama is portrayed as an older man with realistic facial features, although he has an urna on his forehead and the elongated ears of the historical buddha. The eyes have been inlaid with silver and the lips with copper. He wears a tight fitting vest, a plain ankle-length lower garment and a meditation cloak that leaves his right arm free. The right hand does the ‘calling Earth to witness’ mudra, the other is in the meditation gesture and may have held a manuscript or sutra now lost.

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A close inspection of the head reveals that his ears are pierced, perhaps in allusion of the historical buddha, who gave up all material possessions.

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