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Incarnation Lineage of the Mongolian Jetsun Dampa and Jonang Tāranātha
2760-09
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This thangka is a favourite of David Jackson, Professor for Tibetan Studies at Hamburg University. We asked him to write down what attracted him to this particular piece. “The painting is, I now know, a fairly common work of Mongolian religious art, of which several other exemplars are known from European collections. But the fact that all of them were based on a block print could only be established from an examination of the Hamburg painting, which survives in perhaps the worst condition of all. The names of the individual figures were painted over in this thangka, but they could be read by holding this somewhat damaged painting up to a bright light. These names confirmed the identities of most of the small figures, verifying that they probably represent the first Mongolian Jetsun Dampa (the monk-rulers of Mongolia) and his previous existences. The painting thus has a rich and detailed iconography. The central lama of the painting wears a yellow pandit hat with long tails that fall back behind his shoulders. Directly above his head as the first minor figure is a "tutelary" deity. To the right and left are fourteen humans, minor figures representing a series of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist masters. The central figure could not be identified by inscriptions, but since he is no. 16 in the series points to his being the first of the Jetsun Dampa lama princes of Mongolian, Ye shes rdo rje alias Blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan alias Zanabazar (1635-1723), who was incidentally a famed artist in his own right.” (David Jackson)

History of the Object
The thangka was painted over outlines with colour-codes, printed directly onto the tissue in woodblock-technique. The print underlying this painting was taken from a block presumably dating to the 18th century. The work may have been done either in Tibet or Mongolia or parts of it may have been done in either country.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Mineral Pigments on Cotton(?)-Tissue, Silk 
Measurements
(unmounted) Height 44 cm, Width 30,5 cm (mounted: 87 cm x 43 cm) 
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
18th Century 
Where it was made
Mongolia or Tibet 
Geography
Mongolia 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century 
Function
Hanging scroll for use in a Buddhist temple 
Acquisition
The painting was acquired in Mongolia around 1900 by the German traveller and collector Hans Leder, who sold his objects though the Hamburg dealer Umlauff. The Museum bought the thangka from Umlauff in 1909, together with over 270 other objects from the Leder collection. 
Copyright
Saal/Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg 
Acknowledgements
Thanks to David Jackson for his help with this and many other thangkas. 
Owner
Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg 
Museum
Museum of Ethnology, Hamburg 
Credit line
Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, Inv.-Nr. 2760:09 

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  • David Jackson509 weeks ago

    The names written on thangka confirm the identities of most of the small figures, verifying that they probably represent the first Mongolian Jetsun Dampa (the monk-rulers of Mongolia) and his previous existences.

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