Tibet, famous lamas (21)

18th century, Tibet, Marpa, lacquered wood with cold gold and pigments, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The famous translator Marpa Chokyi Lodro (11th century), instantly recognisable with his layman’s clothes, his thick hair, short neck and distinctive facial features, is often depicted with his hands over his knees.

18th century, Tibet, Gampopa, lacquered wood with cold gold and pigments, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A young Gampopa Sonam Rinchen (11th century) wearing the full monastic garb and coiffed with the red Kagyu hat. Originally a student of medicine, he became a monk at an early age after losing his wife and child.

18th century, tibet, Longchenpa, painted clay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This Nyingma lama, who lived during the 14th century, wrote a comprehensive book on buddhism in Tibet and is regarded as a manifestation of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sonam Lhundrup, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The famous abbot of Mustang, who is usually shown as a rotund and balding man, does the ‘turning the wheel of law’ gesture with his hands. He has silver-inlaid eyes (with no pupils), copper-inlaid lips, and the border of his garments has silver and copper inlaid motifs.

16th century, Tibet, Tangton Gyalpo, brass, photo on Fondatian Alain Bordier as before , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

The great Tibetan engineer Tangtong Gyalpo, his hair gathered in a topknot with a finial, his  chest bare, the shoulders covered with a meditation cloak, his right hand in the gesture of debate (vitarka mudra) and holding a pill between thumb and forefinger. He would normally have a long-life vase in his left hand rather than another pill.

17th century, Tibet, dpag.bsam dbang.po, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17719 lot 232, Paris.

Pagsam Wangpo, who lived during the first part of the 17th century, is identified by an inscription on the base. He wears the tall fan-shaped hat of the Drukpa order and does the gesture of generosity with his right hand. The left hand is in the gesture of debate.

18th century, Tibet, Dragpa Gyaltsen, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Galerie Zacke  .

Dragpa Gyaltsen is depicted as a deified lama, holding a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell in his hands together with the stem of lotuses that support he hilt of a sword and a manuscript. It is the first time we see him with a hat; it has a lotus and jewel finial and is decorated at the front with a visvajra symbol.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Drukpa Kunley, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

Like other tantric practitioners with eccentric teaching methods, this lama has sometimes been regarded as mad and outrageous yet he became a prominent member of the Tibetan monastic community, and the patron saint of Bhutan – where he is associated with fertility rituals. On this copper plaque he is accompanied by devotees.

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