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Lot 39


Estimated Value:

2.000 € - 3.000 €


7.000 €


Tibet, 2nd half 18th c.
80 x 59 cm R.
Tempera and gold on cotton fabric, very careful execution of details. This thangka does not primarily have the function of a "field of accumulation" (of merit and wisdom), but serves here as an object of refuge. Taking refuge is the basic practice in Buddhism. It is performed before every meditation and ritual. In order to escape the infinite sufferings to which man is subjected according to Buddhist teachings through countless rebirths, one needs a foundation on which one can firmly rely in every situation. This foundation is the Buddha, his teachings and the community of those on the path to enlightenment, called the three refuges. On this thangka, the Lama represents the Buddha's place, the yidams represent the Buddha's teaching, and the rest of the "friends of salvation" gathered on the thangka represent the community. With three bows, during which certain prayer formulas are spoken and the "Chogs-shin" is visualized, the meditator then takes upon himself the vow to strive for enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings, relying on the three places of refuge. The thangka shows the immeasurable wishing tree that emerged from the cosmic sea, abundantly adorned with fruits, which here take the form of Buddhas and various Lamaist deities. In the crown of the tree is enthroned the root lama, who is kind to all living beings, and who here takes the form of Tsongkhapa (founder of the Yellow Church of Tibet, 1357-1419). In his left hand he holds an alms bowl, the right hand shows the mudra of teaching. Two lotus flowers entwine above his shoulders. Above the lotus of his right shoulder appears the sword of knowledge as a symbol of his wisdom, above that of his left shoulder the wisdom book Prajnaparamita, as a sign of his erudition. In Tsongkhapa's heart is enthroned Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, on whose teachings the root lama instructs the disciple in the Dharma. In the heart of Buddha Shakyamuni dwells the Buddha Vajradhara as a symbol of the Dharmakaya, the unborn, uncreated and unchanging body of reality that can no longer be represented. On the left and right sides of the root lama are two groups of lamas, each surrounding a bodhisattva. These are the succession lines of two at first sight contradictory doctrines of Buddhist philosophy, i.e. two different paths to enlightenment. On the left side of the painting is represented the Yogacara school, which teaches that all apparently different things are permeated by the "One Void". Asanga, who received this teaching directly from the Bodhisattva Maitreya, is probably the most famous representative of this school of teaching. On the right side of the root lama, there is the succession line of the Madhyamika school, i.e. the line of those who walk the middle path between the extremes. Asanga, who received this teaching directly from the bodhisattva Maitreya, is probably the best known representative of this school. On the right side of the root lama, there is the succession line of the Madhyamika school, i.e. the line of those who walk the middle path between the extremes. The most famous representative of this school is the Indian Pandita Nagarjuna (150-250 A.D.), who received the transmission of this school from the Bodhisattva Manjugosha. Above the "rootama" Tsongkhapa is the lineage of tantric initiation, headed by the dual presence of the blue-colored Adibuddha Vajradhara. The siddhas and lamas represent the lineage of secret and supreme knowledge, often transmitted only orally to the disciple. Below the root lama, arranged in a ring, are ten classes of buddhas and lamaistic deities symbolizing the various degrees of knowledge imparted in Vajrayana Buddhism. The "salvation friends" arranged on these levels are to be regarded as representatives of their classes, which may be interchangeable. On the six lower flower rings appear Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Protectors, who are to be regarded as expressions of the wisdoms given in the sutras. On the uppermost four rings are depicted the tantric deities, understood as a figurative description of the knowledge taught in the tantas. On the lowest ring are the Dharmapalas, who protect the Buddha's teachings and serve the meditator by removing obstacles. The Lama represents the figurative and spiritual center of the "Chogs-shin". He rests on the foundation of the ten stages of knowledge (of sutras and tantras), symbolized by the Buddhas and deities below him. As the point of intersection of the two doctrinal paths to the right and left, he merges the two seemingly contradictory truths into a higher unity. That he dwells in the crown of the immeasurable tree of wishes shows that he is the fulfillment of all wishes. The Buddha Shakyamuni in his heart indicates that he is based on the teaching proclaimed by the Buddha, and the Adibuddha in Shakyamuni's heart reveals him as a Lama in form, but as Buddha Vajradhara in essence. By paying homage to him as the essence of all wisdom, as the abode of all Buddhas, and as the connecting link to the three lineages, he becomes the mediator of all wisdom and moral merit to be acquired. At the feet of the wishing tree the two Hindu deities Brahma (l) and Vishnu (r) show themselves in homage. Naga kings, rising from the ocean, make offerings. In the lower left corner of the painting are the seven symbols of a world ruler, and in the lower right appears the cosmic representation of the world mountain Meru, with the gold-roofed temple resting on it, surrounded by the foothills and the four continents. Around the lower branches of the tree are gathered the four Lokapalas, they are the protectors of the four world regions. Framed under glass.
Important German private collection, collected in the 1970s and 80s, mainly acquired from Schoettle Ostasiatica, Stuttgart
Wear, traces of age