This portrait of Marpa the Translator (1012-1097) is a copy of one of a set of Ka-gyü lineage thangkas now in the Karmapa's collection at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India. In addition to his wife Dagmema, the thangka depicts two of Marpa's chief disciples, Metön and Tsurtön, both wearing blue. The other two figures in red may be two of Marpa's children. Also of note is the tower appearing among the buildings in the background. This is Serkhar Guthog Tower, one of four which Marpa demanded his disciple Milarepa (who does not appear in this thangka) to build for his son Darmadode. Milarepa had to build these towers to atone for the bad karma accrued in his youth from killing enemies of his family through sorcery; see M. Henss, 'Milarepa's Tower: An Early Treasure of Tibetan Art and Architecture Rediscovered', Oriental Art, 1997, no. 2, pp. 15-23.
There is a Sanskrit inscription on the back of the painting written in both lan-tsa and dbu-can script. Though used as a mantra, it is actually a formulation of the Buddha's teaching on pratityasamutpada, the "dependent origination" of all phenomena.