Himalayan Art Resources, item no. 24643.
Four distinguished human figures command this composition which is the second to last painting in an important set of nine paintings depicting the Lamdre or 'Path and Fruit', lineage holders of Ngor Monastery, Tsang Province, south-central Tibet. This is a line of transmisison of meditation teachings, based primarily on the hevajra cycle of tantras, of which there are many variations particular to the subschool of Sakya.
Ngor Monastery is one of the most influential sub-divisions of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and can be credited with patronizing some of the most outstanding, complex and highest quality works of Tibetan art. Moreover, the monastery continued to patronize a distinct aesthetic throughout the sixteenth century. This painting set is an example of that style: composed in registers, rich in red, and filled with foliate designs in the negative space throughout. For another fifteenth/sixteenth century Sakya painting set of Lamdre lineage holders, see Philadelphoa Museum of Art, accession nos.1970-198-1, 1994-148-639 and 1970-198-2 which bear a close stylistic similalrity to this. The present painting's lineage holders are identifiable by poetic verses of praise that line the bottom register naming the second abbott of Ngor, Munchen Sempa Chenpo Konchog Gyaltsen (1388-1469); third abbbott of Ngor Jamyang Sherab Gyatso (1396-1474); the fourth abbott Gyaltsab Kunga Wangchuk (1424-1478) and the sixth abbott, Gorampa Sonam Sengge (1424-1489).
The other four known paintings from this set are the third, fourth, fifth and eighth in the sequence (Himalayan Art Resources item nos. 30804, 20922, 30923, 44402). This important painting set can be roughly dated to 1525 based on the death date of the last lineage holder depicted in the set, the eighth abbot of Ngor Monastery, Munch Sanggye Rinchen (b.1450). Two of these early sixteenth century works were formerly in a renowned Swiss collection and sold at Galerie Koller, Zurich, 26 June 1993,lots 109 and 110. All four known examples are now in private collections.
The inscription may be translated as: Endowed with the highest aspiration of the virtuous (three) jewels, Extraordinary victor of all directions, With auspicious signs, virtuous qualities and goodness, I bow at the feet of Sempa Chenpo/Having unobstructed all knowable thngs, Having impressed on the mind an ocean of scripture [His] magnificent renown pervades all three realms, I bow at the feet of Jamyang Choje./ Beholding the essential nature of all tantras [He] extends the celebration of the ripened and free in all ten directions, I bow at the feet of Khyenrab Wangchuk, excellent guide of fortunate students/Having fully developed immeasurable merits, Senge's clear roar frightens every beast of falsehood with Sugata's teaching, I bow [at the feet of] the snow mountain preserver of Buddhist teachings. Auspiciousness"