Tibet, bearded lamas

16th century circa, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, is or was at the Jokhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

A few (generally late) sculptures of lamas depict them with facial hair, usually a moustache, goatee and beard. The above has cold gold on his face and the details have been painted with pigments, blue for the hair, white for the facial hair. His cloak is decorated with a chased cloud pattern and a geometrical and floral border. A tiny foot shows under the abundant Chinese silk fabric. He holds a manuscript in his left hand and does the teaching gesture with the other.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Chokyi Dragpa Jungne, hollow gilt copper, at the Fondation Alain Bordier.

This Tibetan buddhist teacher sports a long curly beard that follows the jawline, no moustache or goatee.

17th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, copper alloy with copper and silver inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A stunning character seated on an antelope skin over a double lotus base, holding a bowl in his left hand and a vajra sceptre in the other.

His eyes and facial hair, except for the eyebrows, are made of silver. He doesn’t wear a vest and his chest would be bare but for a copper-inlaid strip, presumably a piece of material to hold his robe in place. There is a richly embroidered cloak resting over his left shoulder.

18th century, Tibet, lama, horn and paint, at the British Museum in London (UK).

This lama with a  Chinese-style beard and goatee  holds a long-life vase in his left hand.

 

Tibet, lamas and their hair

People in the Western world tend to think that lamas are monks in general and that, therefore, they have short hair. In fact the term is an honorific title applying to Tibetan buddhist teachers (male or female).

13th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

It is very unusual for a lama to be depicted with thick snail-like hair curls like the historical buddha. Nevertheless, the monastic garments, including a meditation cloak, tell us that we are looking at a lama, his eyes closed in rapture, the face painted with cold gold, the hair dyed with  blue pigment. Equally unusual is the robe fastened with a thick embroidered belt and covering both arms.

13th-14th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

We have seen a few examples of lamas with their long hair combed back.

16th century, Tibet, possibly a Kagyu yogi, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

This smiling man with a moustache wears his long curly hair loose. He holds a long-life vase in his left hand and does the teaching gesture with the right hand, displaying a diamond incised in the palm.

14th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, copper alloy with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, same as before.

16th century, same, gilt copper alloy repoussé and cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The majority have short hair, with a receding hairline, more or less pronounced.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Mipa Chokyi Gyalpo, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Also known as Tsugla Gyatso Trengwa, this personage holds a long-life vase in his left hand. His hair forms a straight line at the front.

17th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Some of the eldest are nearly bald, as can be expected.

Same, at the British Museum in London (UK).

On this late work, the lama wears his long hair fastened in the Chinese fashion.

Tibet, lamas and their hats

14th-15th century, Tibet, Drikung Kagyu hierarch, copper alloy with copper inlay, published on http://www.plumblossoms.com.

There is a (confusing) variety of hats associated with the Kagyu school of Tibetan buddhism.

15th century circa, Tibet, Drugpa Kagyu lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Seen from the front, the above headdresses form a tall and impressive crown-like volume.

16th century circa, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Whereas this one has peaked flaps on each side.

16th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

And this one looks half unfolded on the sides and at the front.

15th century, Tibet, Jonang lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

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The hat worn by Jonang lamas is like the Indian pandita hat but yellow. This one is richly incised all over with a floral pattern that matches the cloak.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sakya lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Derived from the Indian pandita hat, the standard Sakya hat is red.

17th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The red pandita hat is often worn like a flat cap by Tibetan scholars, and was especially associated with translators. This lama holds a long-life vase in his left hand. The rim of the base supporting the lotus on which he is seated is decorated with a very ornate chased floral pattern.

18th century, Tibet, Gelug lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This Gelug hat is quite similar to the yellow Jonang hat (The Jonang school was eventually absorbed by the Gelug school).

18th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

This type of hats, with the sides upright and considerably taller than the front, topped with a lotus bud, is worn by hierarchs such as karmapas (black with visvajra at the front),  shamarpas and situpas (red with a triple gem at the front).

Tibet, lamas on cushion (3)

14th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A standard portrait of a lama dressed in monastic garments with a copper-inlaid and incised hem, seated on a plain cushion, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other held in the meditation gesture.

14th-15th century, same, dark copper alloy with traces of cold gold, same as before.

This frowning personage has a rosary around his left wrist and holds does the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture. His vest and outer robe have a broad hem decorated with a large incised motif. The folds of the cloth are marked with a deep groove.

16th century circa, Tibet, lama, gilt copper alloy, copper alloy, turquoise, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This one does a pointing gesture with one hand and holds a flaming jewel inlaid with turquoise in the other. His mediation cloak has slipped off his shoulders and forms a soft mass of cloth wrapping his legs, with the tip of a felt boot showing through. The palm of his hand and the hem of his gown are incised with a floral design. The cushion is placed on a plinth decorated with turquoise-inlaid shapes.

17th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

An interesting combination of a soft cloth over an antelope skin itself over a blanket covering two cushions, supporting a rotund figure with both legs well wrapped in his cloak, his right hand doing the teaching gesture.

Same, private collection, published on http://www.cambiaste.com

This Kagyu lama sits on three cushions covered with a blanket topped with a soft cloth, a thin cloak covering his shoulders.

 

Tibet, lamas on throne (3)

14th century, Tibet, lama, gilt brass, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

Seated on a low double-lotus base placed on a small throne supported by  lions and makaras and decorated with a triratna at the front, this lama wears the usual monastic garments, including a meditation cloak with an incised hem. The left hand calls Earth to witness while the other does the meditation gesture.

16th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Koller.

Coiffed with the Drugpa/Drukpa hat, this Kagyu lama holds a long-life vase in his left hand and does the teaching gesture with the other, seated on a lotus atop a stepped throne supported by lions and decorated with an upright vjara sceptre and ribbons at the front, the upper rim of the throne and parts of his garments richly incised with a floral pattern.

16th-17th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with silver inlay, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Inspired by earlier works, this more sober sculpture includes silver-inlay for the hem of the robe and the cloth over the throne. His elongated arms and torso are typical of the 17th century (Tibet).

 

Tibet, deified lamas (5)

16th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This unidentified lama holds the stem of lotuses supporting a vajra sceptre and a bell, and a set of three flaming jewels in his cupped hand. His eyes are inlaid with silver, the lips and part of the vest with copper.

16th century, Tibet, Sakya lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This one is framed by a blue lotus supporting the hilt of a sword to his right and a different lotus supporting a manuscript (Manjushri’s attributes). His hands, held wide apart, do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

16th-17th century, Tibet lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this curious sculpture, the blue lotus with the hilt of a sword to his right and the other lotus to his left each support a miniature lama seated on a lotus base.

17th century, same as before, with traces of gilding, photo by Sotheby’s.

Another image with (blue) lotuses supporting a book (to his left) and the hilt of a sword and the lama’s hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘.

 

Tibet, lamas and their garments (3)

12th century circa, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Early Tibetan sculptures normally depict lamas with a sleeveless undergarment, an outer robe which covers the lower undergarment, and a meditation cloak usually worn over the shoulders and wrapping the knees. The above is seated on a low double-lotus base with a backplate decorated with lotus buds and topped with a triratna (set of three gems). The style of his hat originates from the Dolpo area in Nepal.

The artist has used thick beading for the edge of the backplate, incisions for the patched robe, stippling for the floral decoration on the edge of the cloak and piping for the hems.

13th century circa, Tibet, Kagyu lama, copper alloy with copper inlay on mouth, nails and hem, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The meditation cloak is pleated and has a small collar.

The hem of all the garments is often incised, with a floral or a geometrical pattern.

18th century, Tibet, Sakya lama, gilt metal, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Sometimes the cloak has slipped off the lama’s shoulders and is piled up around him. We will note the waist of the lower garment showing, and the long strands of plaited hair.

14th-15th century, Tibet. lama, gilt copper, is or was at the Jokhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This lama doesn’t wear a cloak, his patched robe covers his legs down to the ankles. Traditionally, the right arm is left bare. He does the turning-the-wheel-of-dharma gesture with his hands.

15th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

As fashion evolves, the pleats of the lower garment gathered under the breast begin to show slightly under the outer robe around the 15th century.

15th-16th century, Central Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Resources.

17th century, Tibet, lama, metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

At times, the waist of the garment, pleated and held in place with a belt, shows completely.