Tibet, Karmapas (9)

13th century, Tibet, 1st Karmapa, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This masterpiece depicts Düsum Khyenpa seated on a throne covered with a cloth and decorated with a dharma wheel at the front, his right hand extended in the gesture of supreme generosity, the other may have held a manuscript. He wears the full monastic garb, including a thick woollen meditation cloak, and the distinctive hat worn by karmapas.

16th century, Tibet, 1st Karmapa, painted wood, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

On this later portrait the hierarch does the gesture of calling Earth to witness with his right hand. We can see a summary visvajra symbol at the front of his hat.

14th century, Tibet, karmapa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This unidentified karmapa is seated on a throne supported by lions and yakshas and decorated with a triple gem surrounded with flames (triratna) at the front. His cloak is made of strips of fabric with a lotus pattern also visible on the border of his vest.  Instead of lying flat on the fabric, the sun disc and a crescent moon symbol at the top of this hat have been sculpted separately.

15th century, Tibet, 3rd karmapa, gilt brass, photo same as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Rangjung Dorje, seated in the vajra position, his bare feet showing, his hands placed over his knees.

16th century, Tibet, 3rd karmapa, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The same man, his legs wrapped in his cloak, his (rather large) hands also placed over his knees, his tall hat topped with a lotus bud finial.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, silver, photo on as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Probably designed for a portable shrine, this small image (5 cm tall) depicts a hierarch with a manuscript placed sideways in his left hand. His right hand does an unusual downwards gesture, possibly a variant of the gesture of debate/teaching. Despite the small size, the artist has taken the trouble to sculpt the creases of the vest, the folds of the patched outer garment, the visvajra at the front of the hat and the lotus bud on top of it.

18th century, Tibet, 8th karmapa, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Mikyo Dorje, a manuscript in his left hand.

16th century, Tibet, 9th Karmapa, painted wood, photo and location as before.

Wangchuk Dorje is seated on a single cusion with a large vajra sceptre motif. There is a manuscript in his left hand.

18th century, Tibet, karmapa, wood, photo as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This elderly man has both hands in the gesture of meditation and may have held a long-life vase or another attribute.

Tibet, various hierarchs (2)

12th century or later, Tibet, Karmapa 1, Düsum Khyenpa, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt .

A portrait of the first karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa, in full monastic attire, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the left hand held in the meditation gesture, his eyes inlaid with silver, his lips and the hem and seams of his garment inlaid with copper, in the style of 13th and 14th century Tibetan sculptures (defined as ‘Monastic Period’ works on Himalayan Art Resources) but with different body proportions, a larger lotus base with copper beading on the rim, and a plain hat. The same item is labelled ’14th century, Sino-Tibetan’ on Leclère .

16th-17th century, Tibet, Karmapa 1, Düsum Khyenpa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.The same personage, his right hand doing the gesture of debate/teaching, the other supporting a (missing) book, dressed in silk garments with an embroidered border.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt metal with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on  HAR  

A non-identified karmapa, wearing the traditional black lotus hat with a visvajra symbol at the front and a crescent moon-and-sun disc symbol above it (barely visible here).

Karmapa, 16th c., Tibet, gilt metal, 202852 HAR

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt metal, private collection, item 202852 on HAR

A singular sculpture of a hierarch seated on a throne with both legs pendent, his feet placed on a lotus platform attached to the base, holding the stem of lotuses. The crescent moon-and-sun disc symbol is at the front of his hat, there may be a visvajra above.

15th-16th c?, Tibet, karmapa or Shamarpa, bronze+sil. eyes+cop. lips, urna, sun+moon, Tsang province, 13205 HAR

Unlabelled (15th or 16th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with silver eyes and copper lips), Tsang province, photo on HAR .

A rare image of a hierarch with a large urna (the stone now missing), holding a long-life vase in his left hand. His lotus hat is decorated with a sun-and-moon symbol at the front and topped with a half-vajra finial.

Tibet, various hierarchs

Shamarpa 5, Konchok Yenlak, Tibet, 16th c., gilt bronze, 14,8 cm, 21268 har, Christie's

16th century, Tibet, Shamarpa 5, Konchok Yenlak, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on  Christie’s

We have seen a few images of Konchok Yenlak, identified by his thin oval face, large ears and tall red hat.

Karmapa 6, 16th-17th c., Tibet, Thongwa Donden, silver+cold g., 10,9 cm, attr. to Karma Rinchen, rect. cushion+rug, vajraghanta, Sotheby's

16th-17th century, tibet, Karmapa 6, Thongwa Donden, silver with traces of cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s

The sixth karmapa wears a black hat with a visvajra symbol at the front and a sun and moon above. He holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a vajra bell in the other.

16th-17th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Art Curial.

17th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Florence Number Nine

This hierarch holds a large flaming jewel in his left hand.

PL3, Palden Yeshe pos., 18th c. cir., Tibet, wood,+graces paint and cold g. 18 cm, abbot, MC Daffos, aaoarts.com

Circa 18th century, Tibet, ‘possibly the third panchen lama, Palden Yeshe’, wood with traces of paint and cold gold, private collection, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts

 

Tibet, karmapas (7)

15th century, Tibet, Karma Pakshi, bronze (brass) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Polyauction

A classic portrait of the second karmapa, dressed in full monastic garments and distinctive black hat with a diamond at the front and a sun-and-moon symbol on the top.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Karma Pakshi (labelled ‘Karmapa 3, Rangjung Dorje on  HAR), bronze with traces of gilding, private collection, photo same as before.

15th century, Tibet, Karmapa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Polyauction.

A very similar image, possibly of the same person, dressed in the same style, his chest partly uncovered, the face painted with cold gold and pigments.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Karmapa, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction.

This older hierarch holds a long-life vase in both hands.

Karmapa, 16th-17th c., Tibet, gilt bronze, 10 cm, Sotheby's

16th-17th century, Tibet, karmapa (identified as Karmapa 3, Rangjung Dorje on HAR), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

An unusual portrait of a karmapa with powerful facial features and oversized hat wearing stiff garments with a very broad hem decorated with a stippled and incised pattern and coarse beading.

16th century, Tibet, Karmapa, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction.

Karmapa, 18th c., Tibet, gilt bronze, 13 cm, arcimboldo.cz

18th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Arcimboldo

We have seen many deified lamas, but only one karmapa before. This one holds a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell in his hands crossed over his heart together with the stem of lotuses that support a round jewel and a book.

Tibet, Karmapas (6)

14th century, Tibet, karmapa, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

This endearing figure is coiffed with the lotus hat worn by Karma Kagyu hierarchs, traditionally black and decorated with a visvajra (or a lozenge representing a visvajra) on the front panel, and clouds at the side. The border of his monastic garments is incised with a wavy pattern.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, copper with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Tessier Sarrou.

To confuse the issue, this character wears a red lotus hat associated with other hierarchs (such as shamarpas and situpas) and traditionally decorated with jewels at the front, but his displays a visvajra.

17th-18th century, Tibet, labelled ‘possibly the first karmapa’, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Castor Hara. Also labelled ‘Sonam Gyaltsen’ on HAR

The first five karmapas are thought to have worn a small black cap before the black lotus hat became their headdress (see the Himalayan Art Resources page on Hats of the Himalayas). This personage wears an ornate foliate crown with rosettes and ribbons, a half-vajra finial on top of his head, beaded jewellery and a ritual apron over his ample silk garments. He holds a vajra and ghanta crossed over his heart. The sculpture probably depicts him performing a ritual ceremony.

Tibet, karmapas (5)

Karmapa, 16th c., Tibet, gilt c.a., 15 cm visvajra on hat, Nagel

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

The double thunderbolt sceptre (visvajra) at the front of his hat identifies this lama as one of the past karmapas (head of the Karma Kagyu school of buddhism).

16th-17th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt copper, is or was at the Jokhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

We can see from this image that there is a crescent moon + sun symbol above the visvajra, and a lotus bud finial at the very top. His face is painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair is dyed blue.

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

Since no name is written on the base, it is impossible to say which of the past karmapas this is. There had only been 10 karmapas by the 17th century (all men), some of them easy to identify, others whose features vary considerably. We have seen a sculpture of Mikyo Dorje, the 8th karmapa, with a  similar bone structure but this may be someone else.

17th century, Tibet, karmapa, Same.

An obviously younger man, with a different bone structure.

17th-18th century, Tibet, karmapa?, labelled shamarpa, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

In theory, the shamarpa hat is red, with a triple gem at the front (but we have seen some who have a visvajra and are identified through an inscription on the base of the sculpture) and with clouds on the sides, near to the front panel. This unknown personage could be a karmapa.

Tibet, Karmapas (4)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Karma Pakshi, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The 2nd karmapa wears plain monastic clothes and the (black) hat of the Kagyu order. The absence of gilding and the fact that the waist of his lower garment isn’t visible help date the piece.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Karmapa 2, gilt copper alloy, at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

After the 15th century, part of the waist of the lower garment shows (over the vest and under the robe, at chest level) and the clothes often have an incised hem.

17th century, same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This karmapa wears fine silk garments with an incised foliate pattern.