An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo Tibet, circa 1835
Lot 26
An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo
Tibet, circa 1835
Sold for £551,000 (US$ 747,604) inc. premium

Lot Details
An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo Tibet, circa 1835 An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo Tibet, circa 1835 An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo Tibet, circa 1835 An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo Tibet, circa 1835 An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo Tibet, circa 1835
An exceptionally rare complete set of thangkas of the Panchen Lamas of Tashilhunpo
Tibet, circa 1835
Distemper on cloth, framed and glazed.
123 x 87cm (48 1/2 x 34 1/4 in); with mount: 266.5 x 165.5 cm (104 6/8 x 65 in).
123 x 87 cm (48 1/2 x 34 1/4 in); with mount: 266.5 x 165.5 cm (104 6/8 x 65 in).
123 x 87 cm (48 1/2 x 34 1/4 in); with mount: 266.5 x 165.5 cm (104 7/8 x 65 1/8 in).

Footnotes

  • 西藏 約1835年 扎什倫布寺班禪喇嘛像 一組三幅

    Referenced 參考: Himalayan Art Resources item nos.2180, 2181 and 2182

    Provenance 來源: The Jongen-Schleiper Collection of Fine Thangkas

    Published and Illustrated: A.Neven, Etudes D'Art Lamaique et de L'Himalaya, Brussels, 1978, pp.49, 51-55, nos.26-28.
    M.Brauen, ed., The Dalai Lamas: A Visual History, Zürich, 2005, p.204, pl.200 (The Fourth Panchen Lama).

    出版及著錄: A.Neven著,《Etudes D'Art Lamaique et de L'Himalaya》,布魯塞爾,1978年,頁49、51-55,編號26-28
    M.Brauen編,《The Dalai Lamas: A Visual History》,蘇黎世,2005年,頁204,圖200(四世班禪喇嘛像)

    Each painting depicting respectively the First, Fourth and Third Panchen Lamas (as the Fourth Dalai Lama was still alive when the triptych was produced, he would be given the more honoured position of being in the centre of the triptych). The occurrence of three prominent exponents of the Panchen lineage, along with the complete group of their ten pre-incarnations, all based on an 18th century woodblock print produced at the Narthang monastery in Central Tibet, makes this triptych exceedingly rare and important.

    Lineage portraits were meant to convey spiritual and secular authority. Presenting their subjects as both individuals and part of continuing incarnations, they functioned as occasional focus for meditative purposes, but also as multi-layered narratives conflating the worlds of Gods and humans, portraying events distant from and contemporary to the main subject.

    Second only in authority to the Dalai Lama within the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the Panchen Lama lineage was established during the 16th century by the Fifth Dalai Lama, when he first bestowed the title of Panchen, or 'great scholar', to his own teacher, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662).

    The Panchen Lamas became the abbots of Tashilhunpo monastery, near Shigatse, in the former Tsang province of Central Tibet. Considered the incarnations of Amitabha Buddha, they were also scholars and statesmen. As their popularity increased during the 17th century, ten eminent Indian and Tibetan teachers of the past were awarded posthumous titles and selected as precursors to the Panchen lineage, which underscored its legitimacy retrospectively.

    The Panchen Lamas were highly respected by the leaders of the Dalai lineage and played a crucial role in determining the latter's reincarnated successors. The First Panchen Lama supported the installment of the Fourth and Fifth Dalai Lamas, while the Third Panchen Lama, himself installed by the Seventh Dalai Lama, recognised the Eight Dalai Lama, who later identified the Fourth Panchen Lama.

    The Third Panchen Lama was also highly revered by the Qianlong emperor, with whom he forged a strong alliance with. Several records describe the Lama's visit to China in 1780 to partake in the emperor's 70th birthday celebrations. For the occasion, the Qianlong emperor had the Xumifushou Temple built near the Imperial Summer residence in Chengde, which imitated the features of the Panchen's monastic seat in Tibet. He also appointed the lama as his spiritual preceptor, learned the Tibetan language to converse with his guest and gifted him with silk, paintings and Buddhist sculptures. In addition, following the lama's sudden death in Beijing later in the same year, the Qianlong emperor established a memorial hall within the residential quarters of the Forbidden City called the Pavilion for Rain and Flowers (yuhua ge 雨花閣); see R.W.Dunnell, et al., New Qing Imperial History: The Making of Inner Asian Empire at Qing Chengde, London, 2004, p.xxii.

    The thangkas depict:

    1. The First Panchen Lama, Lobzang Chokyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662), flanked by Kalachakra and Chakrasamvara, Tantric deities; Abhayakaragupta (d.1125), Go Loksawa (11th century), Saskya Pandita (1182-1251) and Dorje Pal (1284-1365), respectively, the Seventh, Eight, Ninth and Tenth pre-incarnations of the lineage; on the upper register, Kashyapa, Buddha of the Past, is flanked by Changchub Chöphel (1756-1838), Jangchub Chopel (1756-1838) and Yeshe Thardo (1756-1829), abbots of the Ganden monastery of the Gelug School; Atisha (982-1054), Indian teacher, above Sherab Sengge (1383-1445), disciple of Tsongkhapa and the Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso (1819-1837); on the lower register Bahyasadhana, Dharmaraja, Antarasadhana and Guhyasadhana appear as manifestations of Yama, Lord of the Dead.

    2. The Fourth Panchen Lama, Lobzang Tempai Nyma (1781-1854), flanked by Vajrabhairava, emanation of Manjushri, Guhyasamaja, tutelary deity of the Guhyasamaja tantra, and Amitabha Buddha; Subhuti, disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, Manjukirti, king of Shambhala, Bhavaviveka, Indian teacher, First, Second and Third Panchen Lamas; on the upper register, Shakyamuni, Buddha of the Present, is flanked by Tsongkhapa above his two disciples, Gyaltsab Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) and Khedrup Gelek Pelzang (1385-1439), and the Three Buddhas of Longevity, namely, Jina Amityaus, the White Tara and Ushnishavijaya; on the lower register, the White form of Mahakala, emanation of Avalokiteshvara, appears in conjunction with the Blue Mahakala, and Mahapita Vaishravana, God of Wealth, seated atop his white lion.

    3. The Third Panchen Lama, Palden Yeshe (1738-1780), flanked by Niladanda Vajrapani, Hevajra, and the Second Panchen Lama, Lozang Yeshe Pezangpo (1663-1737); Khedrup Gelek Pelzang (1385-1438), Sonam Choglang (1438-1505), and Ensapa Lobzang Dondrub (1505-1564), respectively, the Eight, Ninth and Tenth pre-incarnations of the lineage; on the upper register, Maitreya, Buddha of the Future, is flanked by Jina Vajradhara, Primordial Buddha of the Gelugpa sect, Sitrapatra Vajradhara and her attendant Marici, as well as the Green Tara and two emanations of Manjushri, namely, Sitamanjugosha and Raktapitamanjugosha; the lower register depicts Mahakala with Yangsang dugri nagpo and Kamadhatvishvari Parvati, both deities associated with the Mahakala cycle.

    The thangka depicting the First Panchen Lama compares with a painting depicting the same subject, 19th century, in the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, ref.no.F1997.25.3, illustrated on Himalayan Art Resources, item no.344. The thangka depicting the Third Panchen Lama is also similar to one depicting the same subject, 19th century, in the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, illustrated on Himalayan Art Resources, item no.1057, and a similar counterpart to the thangka depicting the Fourth Panchen Lama, 19th century, is in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, ref.no.70.2/753, illustrated on Himalayan Art Resources, item no.94400.

    A group of nine paintings of the Third Panchen Lamas, late 18th century, was sold at Christie's New York, 18 September 2013, lot 256.
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