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Rossi & Rossi Ltd

Lama portrait
late 18th c.
Distemper on silk
52 x 38 cm – 20 1/2 x 15 in

This Lama portrait is a good example of Eastern Tibetan painting from the school initiated by Situ Panchen (1700-1774). The Lama, who wears Tibetan monastic robes, a pandita hat and holds a vajra and a bell, the ritual instruments symbolic of wisdom and compassion, sits on a simple lotus and is surrounded by a nimbus and a halo. A female attendant, dressed in richly flowing garments, kneels in front of him and makes an offering in a skull-cup. An ewer of Islamic design is placed in front of them. The setting of the figures is extremely simple, consisting only of a few clouds on the right. The transparent colours, reduced here to shades of pink, red and orange, the empty background and the rendering of the garments in a flowing Chinese style are all hallmarks of the painting tradition developed in East Tibet by the great Lama and master artist Situ Panchen in the eighteenth century. The yellow silk on which the thang-ka was painted enhances the luminosity of the painting.

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