Yong Zin Khon Shogpel: Seventh Abbot of Ngor Monastary (Sakya Sect)
Distemper and gold on cloth
Image: 31 x 26 1/4 in. (78.7 x 66.7 cm)
Mount: 49 1/2 x 28 in. (125.7 x 71.1 cm)
Seymour Fund, 1971
This painting is one of two in the collection from a set depicting the abbots of Ngor Monastery. Tibetan Buddhism accords extraordinary prestige and reverence to abbots, who are believed to embody the teachings of their lineage and therefore seen to be living embodiments of enlightenment. Ngor Monastery followed the teachings of the Sakya school and is associated with an important set of mandalas painted by a group of itinerant Nepalese artists shortly after it was founded in 1429. This thangka is painted in a style still predominantly influenced by Nepal but showing a new awareness of Chinese art in such details as the throne base and the naturalistic treatment of drapery. The enthroned hierarch is seated in a cross-legged yogic posture with his hands raised to his chest in the preaching gesture (dharmachakra mudra). Flanking him are lotuses supporting holy books (palm-leaf manuscripts). In a nimbus above, to the right, is a small image of Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life, and to the left, the Buddha. The upper registers contain the Sakya order lineage and the lower, a group of protective and auspicious deities.
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