Roundel with Karma Lineage
H. 3 1/2 in. (8.7 cm); W. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm); D. 1/2 in. (1.3 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 2003
Not on view
The monks depicted here are dressed in the robes of the Karma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and the central figure most likely represents Mikyo Dorje (1500–1599), the eighth head of that lineage. The remaining seven monks represent earlier incarnations of him. Each has individualized facial features and gestures. Two seminal figures in the development of the Karma branch are shown: Twilopa and Naropa, Indian adepts responsible for the transmission of this Buddhist practice to Tibet, sit at the upper right and left, respectively. Marpa (1012–1098), a renowned translator, and Milarepa (1040–1123), famed for his songs and ascetic lifestyle, are seated in grottoes below the two adepts. Vajradhara, an important Buddha in the Karma tradition, sits at the top with his hands in the teaching gesture, while the protective deity Mahakala stands at the bottom, encircled by flames.
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