Early 20th c. rare Buddhist Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo Thangka from Drepung Monastery Lhasa, Tibet
Size: 61cm high, 39cm wide
Rare and beautiful Thangka representing a Buddhist Mahasiddha (Thangtong Gyalpo) with Buddha Amitabha (immeasurable light) on the top of his head and a red Buddhist protector (Mahakala) on the base of his throne.
Object literature: Thangtong Gyalpo (1385 CE–1464 CE or 1361 CE–1485 CE), also known as Chakzampa, the "Iron Bridge Maker" (Wylie: lcags zam pa), Tsöndrü Zangpo "Excellent Persistence" (Wylie: brtson 'grus bzang po), and the King of the Empty Plain. He was also known by a variation of this name, Madman of the Empty Valley. He was a great Buddhist adept, a Chöd master, yogi, physician, blacksmith, architect, and a pioneering civil engineer. He is considered a mind emanation of Padmasambhava and a reincarnation of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. He founded the Iron Chain lineage of the Shangpa Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Thangtong Gyalpo is said to have built 58 iron chain suspension bridges around Tibet and Bhutan, several of which are still in use today. He also designed and built several large stupas of unusual design including the great Kumbum at Chung Riwoche, Tibet; established Gonchen Monastery in Derge; and is considered to be the father of a style of Tibetan opera called Lhamo. Associated with the Shangpa Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, and with the tradition of "mad yogis" known as nyönpa,
Mahasiddha (Sanskrit: mahāsiddha "great adept; Tibetan: གྲུབ་ཐོབ་ཆེན་པོ, Wylie: grub thob chen po, THL: druptop chenpo) is a term for someone who embodies and cultivates the "siddhi of perfection". A siddha is an individual who, through the practice of sādhanā, attains the realization of siddhis, psychic and spiritual abilities and powers. Mahasiddhas were practitioners of yoga and tantra, or tantrikas. Their historical influence throughout the Indian subcontinent and the Himalayas was vast and they reached mythic proportions as codified in their songs of realization and hagiographies, or namtars, many of which have been preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon. The Mahasiddhas are the founders of Vajrayana traditions and lineages such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra.
Traditionally 84 Mahasiddhas are known.
Object history: From a Tibetan collection dating back to before 1950.