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.

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.

 

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Tibet, karmapas (5)

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, pulbished 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, Tibet, Karmapa 9, Wangchuk Dorje, copper alloy (labelled ‘silver’) and gilding, at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

This karmapa, with different facial features and no goatee, holds a manuscript in his left hand. He sits on an embroidered cushion covered with a cloth.

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

The same man wearing fine garments with an incised foliate pattern.

 

Tibet, Düsum Khyenpa (2)

In a previous post we saw the first karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa (1110-1193) with his hands resting over his knees and ‘calling Earth to witness’. Here, he has both hands in the meditation gesture and may have been holding an object, now missing.

14th century, Tibet, 1st karmapa, gilt copper alloy, photo by Nagel.

14th century, Tibet, 1st karmapa, gilt copper alloy, photo by Nagel.

The patches that form his monastic robe are marked with rows of thick beading. The lower part of his garment is tightly tucked under his legs, leaving one foot visible. The whole composition has a balanced, almost pyramidal shape, in the Tibetan style.

Undated, Tibet, 1st karmapa, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, 1st karmapa, copper alloy with copper, silver and gold inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

As above, he is portrayed with an oval face with high cheekbones, small eyes and lips, but on this sculpture the eyes are more sunken (and the crown-like hat is missing). His inner garment is inlaid with metal and its hem is decorated with a geometrical pattern. The meditation cloak over it covers both arms and is gathered loosely over his legs. The bottom is arranged to form lotus petals over the broad single-lotus base – this, along with the single row of lotus petals, the use of gold inlay and the awkward proportions points to a much later date than the previous item.

Tibet, Karmapas (3)

Undated, Tibet, karmapa, copper alloy with silver inlay, at the Walters

Undated (15th century circa?), Tibet, karmapa, copper alloy with silver inlay, at the Walters Art Museum.

This splendid work may depict one of the early karmapas, who wore flat hats instead of the crown-like ones that were introduced from China (see the Himalayan Art Resources website). He has the elongated earlobes and the urna proper to a buddha. His eyes are inlaid with silver in the Kashmiri style. He wears a mixture of patched, plain and brocaded garments, topped with a meditation cloak that leaves his right arm visible. His right hand does the teaching gesture of vitarka mudra, there is a buddhist text manuscript (sutra) in the other. The sole of his feet is flat and triangular.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt copper, private collection, published on en.see

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, gilt copper, private collection, published on en.see

This sculpture looks very much like a 16th century brass item published in a previous post. It displays the same facial features, the same type of lotus base, the same hand gestures. The garments and hat vary a little, the only noticeable difference is the shape of the flaming jewel(s) in his hand. Unfortunately, both are without an inscription on the base that would make identification possible.

16th-17th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie's.

16th-17th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie’s.

The lower garment of this karmapa is gathered loosely to form a lotus flower over the double-lotus base. His hat is topped with a lotus bud. His hands are both in the meditation gesture.

17th century, Tibet, karmapa, brass,

17th century, Tibet, karmapa, copper alloy, private collection, published on en-seercn.com.

Although the plain single cushion and plain garments are typical of the 17th century, it is more usual for a sculpture of that period to be lavishly gilt. We will also note the large lotus flower on top of his hat (otherwise decorated with the standard five-jewel design at the front, moon crescent and sun disc above). He holds a sutra in his left hand.

Tibet, various Kagyu hierarchs

16th century, Tibet, 4th Gyaltsab Rinpoche,

16th-17th century, Tibet, Dragpa Döndrup, 4th Gyaltsab Rinpoche, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie’s.

An inscription on the back identifies him as Dragpa Döndrup, the fourth Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche. He is seated in the lotus position on a cushion decorated with lotus flowers, his hands in the teaching and meditation gesture, a book in his left hand. He wears the Karma Kagyu hat with a double thunderbolt or visvajra at the front, a crescent moon and sun disc above, a lotus bud on top. A large amount of fabric is gathered into soft pleats over his feet (in the Chinese style), giving the sculpture a pyramidal effect.17th century, Tibet, Jigten Sumgön, gilt copper alloy,

17th century, Tibet, Jigten Sumgön, gilt copper alloy, on en.seercn.com

The founder of the Drigung Kagyu lineage, Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön (1143-1217), holds a manuscript leaf in his left hand, palm outwards, his right hand does the teaching gesture.

18th century, Tibet, drugpa lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

18th century, Tibet, drugpa lama, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

 

Tibet, karmapas (2)

13th century, Tibet, 2nd Karmapa, silver and cold gold.

13th century, Tibet, 2nd Karmapa, silver and cold gold.

Karma Pakshi is usually depicted seated in the lotus position, his eyes closed, his hands over his knees in the ‘calling Earth to witness’ gesture, dressed in monastic robe topped with a meditation cloak and wearing the black karmapa hat. His goatee is another distinctive feature.

16th century circa, Tibet, 2nd Karmapa, copper alloy with copper inlay and cold gold, photo by Christie's.

16th century circa, Tibet, 2nd Karmapa, copper alloy with copper inlay and cold gold, photo by Christie’s.

On this sculpture the hem of his garment is inlaid with copper.

17th century, Tibet, Silver with cold gold, private collection.

17th century, Tibet, Mikyö Dorje, Silver with cold gold, private collection.

The 8th karmapa is depicted with plain monastic garments, his right hand in the teaching gesture or vitarka mudra and his left hand in the meditation gesture. He may have been holding a manuscript in his palm, as on the (probably more modern) version below.

17th century, Tibet, Karmapa 10, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

17th century, Tibet, 10th Karmapa, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This is probably a self-portrait of the 10th Karmapa, Chöying Dorje (1604-1674), who was a prolific artist. He seems to have been inspired by Swat Valley-style lion thrones and Gandhara-style water pots for this composition. The arch behind him is topped with a large lotus flower and he holds a large bud in his right hand.