• Indian and Southeast Asian Art auction at Christies

    Sale 2300

    Indian and Southeast Asian Art

    23 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 268

    A Set of Ten Thangkas of Tsong Khapa


    Price Realised  


    A Set of Ten Thangkas of Tsong Khapa
    Tibet, 19th Century
    The thangkas painted on fine silk brocade, each with a central figure of Tsong Khapa in orange monastic robes surrounded by an aureole of variegated light rays depicting scenes from his life, all with inscriptions painted in gold
    Each approximately: 47½ x 26½ in. (120.5 x 67.3 cm.) (10) (10)

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    This particular set of thangkas relates to the various teachings and travels of Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), founder of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in the Amdo region of Eastern Tibet as Lobzang Dragpa, Tsong Khapa, popularly referred to as Je Rinpoche, received his monk's vows from the fourth Karmapa Rolpay Dorje. After travelling to Central Tibet he studied with Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma masters, showing a special fondness for the Sutra-based teachings of Atisha and the earlier Kadampa tradition. With the founding of Ganden monastery in 1409, the Gelugpa ('way of virtue') school was born. This biographical set of paintings includes scenes from his youth and early career, such as his debates and teaching of logic at the Aye Monastery and his visits to Densatil, Gungthang, and Drikung monasteries (a-c).
    Later scenes depict Tsong Khapa's meeting with the Nyingma monk Lodrag Khenchen as a visual allegory of Manjushri encountering Vajrapani (c), and the founding of Ganden Monastery in 1409 (h-i). The last thangka, painted with an elaborate palace complex, shows Tsong Khapa entering Tushita Heaven upon his death (j).

    Compare this group with a set similarly depicting the life of Tsong Khapa in the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. F1996.23.2.


    Christie's, New York, 20 March 2002

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of Francisco Capelo