VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Monumental tangka with silk-applique arhat, Buddha and Lokapala
1996.2628
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The tangka's size and worksmanship qualifies it as a masterpiece. In its entirety, it would have stretched for at least ten metres long. The size and technique of appplique meant that the piece would have been assembled by a group of embroiderers. The fragments also date from the Ming dynasty and extant textiles of this period are rare. They provide an interesting gateway towards understanding weaves and patterns popular in the Ming dynasty.

History of the Object
This is a portion of a monumental tangka with Buddhist figures made from silk fragments in appliqué. The silk fragments are imperial silks which were bestowed upon the Tibetan lamas during the Wanli reign (1572 – 1619). The appliqué was most probably carried out by Tibetan embroiderers during the Qianlong period (1735 – 1769) of the Qing dynasty. The designers of this tangka modelled the iconography after the Narthang woodblock prints of Tibetan Buddhist images which were commissioned between 1732 and 1742 under the auspices of the Seventh Dalai Lama. The original tangka would have had the 16 or 18 luohan, or arhat who were enlightened great beings venerated by Buddhists in China and elsewhere in East Asia; the Buddhas (either the Five Tathagata, or the Eight Medicine Buddhas, popularly venerated by Tibetan Buddhists); and the four celestial Guardian Kings.

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Type
Textile 
Materials
Silk 
Measurements
L: 512cm, W: 265cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 16th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
16th Century - 18th Century 
Function
Monumental tangka such as this piece are hung in a monastery or temple for veneration by devotees or presented during special temple ceremonies in Tibet. 
Acquisition
The museum purchased this piece in 1996. 
Copyright
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Acknowledgements
Szan Tan 
Owner
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum 
Credit line
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 

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