Tsangpa Karpo, 17th century
Pigments on cloth
19 ½ x 14 ¾ in.


One needs to get really close to appreciate all the intricate and special details within a work like this one. Its dark background and compact composition are energized by myriad miniature and sinuously swirling lines.
The large central figure is a wrathful deity known as Tsangpa Karpo. While fierce in appearance, he is in fact a worldly protector, who serves to remove obstacles and counter negativity. Dressed as a warrior, Tsangpa holds a curved sword in his right, upraised hand and a vajra-tipped lasso and lance in his left. His head is crowned with a helmet topped with a white conch shell and peacock feathers. A golden mirror that adorns his chest repels foes. He is depicted riding a dark brown horse, surrounded by dark rolling smoke.
Above and around Tsangpa Karpo are a number of smaller figures. At the top center is a figure holding a bowl with nectar; this is Buddha Amitabha, known as the Buddha of Infinite Light. His color is red, his symbol is the lotus, and his cardinal direction is west. Directly below Amitabha is a teacher (lama) of this practice. At top right appears an important 8th century Indian Buddhist master, and to the left is the 5th Dalai Lama. Various retinue figures fill the foreground.


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