The first Dalai Lama, Dge-'dun grub-pa

The first Dalai Lama, Dge-'dun grub-pa (1391-1475)
Late 17th - early 18th cent.
Paint and tempera on canvas; 76,5 x 50 cm
Inv. Ver.337


A thang-ka (literally 'object that unrolls') is a painted Tibetan scroll. Creating these images is considered a religious act on the part of both the patron and the artist, and they are consecrated in a special ceremony. Thang-kas with gilt hand- and footprints of a lama are exceedingly rare. This one could belong to a series commissioned for the long life of the fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) or one of his successors. The centre of the thang-ka contains a portrait of Dge-'dun grub-pa, the nephew and disciple of Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the most important monastic order of Tibet, the Gelugpa school. In the middle at the top is Tsong-kha-pa, surrounded by protector deities. Dge-'dun grub-pa received the title of first Dalai Lama posthumously.


Discover this masterpiece on the online museum catalogue Carmentis, and in the book Masterpieces and other thang-kas in the gallery Tibet.