A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA  CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY

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A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA
CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY

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A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA
CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY
Distemper on cloth with gold; verso with an "om ah hum" invocation in red Tibetan script.
Himalayan Art Resources item no.61759
Image: 71 x 65 cm (28 x 25 5/8 in.);
With silks: 116 x 82 cm (45 3/4 x 32 1/4 in.)

Footnotes

  • In the 18th century, blackground thangkas used for wrathful deities reached the height of their popularity and quality. Among them, this breathtaking example of Panjarnata Mahakala is of unsurpassed quality. Comprised of flawless details, exquisite lines, and brilliant colors, this thankga is a masterpiece of the blackground genre.

    At the center of its composition, a powerful figure of Panjarnata Mahakala stands over a prone man before an aureole of coiling flames with bright red and golden hues. Panjarnata Mahakala, "Lord of the Pavilion", protects the tantric practice of Hevajra, a potent means through which an initiate can acquire Buddha-consciousness. The artist has depicted the protector's intimidating size and iconography with luxuriant detail among the tiny snakes, sumptuous jewelry, and hyper-realistic severed heads.

    Floating on colorful clouds at the top are the first three founding patriarchs of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism. The first, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092–1158), is at the center. The second, Sonnam Tsemo (1142-1182), is on the right. And the third, Dragpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216) is on the left. Panjarnata Mahakala is particularly revered by the Sakya, with Sachen Kunga Nyingpo considered one of the masters of the Panjarnata Mahakala teachings. Although diminutive to allow more space for Panjarnata Mahakala to dominate the composition, the three teachers are treated with painstaking attention. From the densely patterned textiles to the malas on their wrists, and from the knuckles on their fingers to each hair and wrinkle, the level of precision and realism remains constant.

    Below the teachers, an array of rocky cliffs leads the eye through terrifying scenes from the cremation grounds. A jackal eats a man alive. A bull pierces a man's chest. A snow lion attacks growling tigers. And human flesh and skeletons litter the ground. Still the high level of painted detail resounds. The fierce imagery is furthered at the bottom, where Panjarnata Mahakala's two attendants, two-armed Ekajati and four-armed Shri Devi, guard the bloody offering of the five sense organs.

    The painting might have been produced at Gongkar Chode near Lhasa, or an equivalent important Sakya monastery in Central Tibet; its painter demonstrates a mastery of multiple painting traditions, but the Khenri style predominates. Gongkar monastery is the main site for the surviving body of work by Khyentse Chenmo (fl.1450-90), the Khenri tradition's founder. Khenri stylistic features linking the wrathful deities depicted in Gongkar mural's to the present masterpiece include the manner of depicting Panjarnata's hair in spiralling buns and the rendering of the flaming mandorlas (cf.Jackson, A Revolutionary Artist of Tibet, New York, 2016, pp.65&96-7, figs.2.22&4.22-4). Also, the ravens carrying off human organs in this painting's top register may be directly inspired by Gongkar's Upper Protector's Chapel (ibid., p.70, fig.3.5).

    However, emphatic of the syncretism of painting traditions that really blossoms in the 18th century, the painter also shows a mastery of the New Menri tradition in his brilliant rendering of the golden, jagged landscape. In fact, his treatment is significantly more sophisticated than a blackground thangka of Panjarnata Mahakala predominately in the New Menri style, held in the Rubin Museum of Art (HAR no.65004; Linrothe & Watt, Demonic Divine , New York, 2004, p.81, fig.2.28). Central Tibet in the 18th century witnessed tremendous prosperity and artistic patronage under solidified Gelug rule. This followed a turbulent 17th century in which the Fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lozang Gyatso (1617-1682) unified Tibet. His unifying strategies included an attempt to homogenize Tibetan visual culture. From a muddier amalgamation of painting traditions in the 17th century comes a resplendent crystallization in the 18th century, represented in this masterpiece's clean, sophisticated, flawless design and rendering.

    Details such as Panjarnata Mahakala's charismatic skull crown with pendant festoons are shared by a painting of Shri Devi exhibited in Beijing in 2001 (see Jin We Bao Zang: Xizang Li Shi Wen Wu Xuan Cui, Beijing, 2001, p.106). The treatment of the flayed human skin hanging from Shri Devi's mule in the present painting's bottom right corner also compares closely with those on the Simhavaktra and Hayagriva illustrations of the Kangxi Kangyur in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, dated to 1669 (see Sung (ed.), Om-mani-padme-hum: Tibetan Buddhist Art in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2015, pp.130-1). Another related painting of Panjarnata Mahakala, with similarly patterned scarf and ghandi stick, is held in the Victoria and Albert Museum (acc.no.IM.31-1937).

    Compare this painting's magnificent quality with two other blackground thangkas representing the pinnacle of the genre. One is published in Rochell & Rossi, Masterpieces of Himalayan Art, New York, 2009, no.23. The other sold at Sotheby's, New York, 20 & 21 September, 1985, lot 158 and is now in the Museum der Kulturen, Basel (Essen and Tingo, Die Gotter des Hialayan, Munich, 1989, p.225, pl.138).

    Published
    Ann W. Norton, Gods, Saints and Demons: Hindu and Tibetan Art, Storrs, CT, 1989, p.18, no.65.

    Exhibited
    Gods, Saints and Demons: Hindu and Tibetan Art, The Benton Museum at University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 23 January - 12 March, 1989.

    Provenance
    Belgian ambassador to China, early 20th century
    Henri Kamer, New York, circa 1970s
    Private New England Collection


    寶帳大黑天黑唐卡
    藏中,十八世紀

    布本設色描金;背面提紅色藏文種子字「嗡阿吽」。
    喜馬拉雅藝術資源網61759號
    畫心:71 x 65釐米(28 x 25 5/8英吋)
    裝裱:116 x 82釐米(45 3/4 x 32 1/4英吋)


    忿怒尊黑唐卡在十八世紀達到鼎盛,藝術水平高超並且廣為流傳。而此幅寶帳大黑天更是脫穎而出。細節完美,線條利落,色澤逼人,乃此類黑唐卡的最上乘之作。

    在唐卡的正中央,寶帳大黑天立於仰臥男子之上,站於一團火焰金光之前。寶帳大黑天為喜金剛的不共護主,引導信眾修成正覺,在密宗中是極為重要的護法神。畫師以巧奪天工的畫工,通過纖細的蛇飾、華麗的珠飾和超現實的頭顱表現大黑天威武忿怒之姿。

    唐卡頂端「薩迦五祖」中的前三位漂浮於五色雲上。位於中間是薩千貢噶寧波(Sachen Kunga Nyingpo,1092-1158),在右邊的是洛本索南澤莫(Loppon Rinpoche Sonam Tsemo,1142-1182),第三位靠左的是傑尊仁波切札巴蔣稱(Jetsun Rinpoche Dragpa Gyaltsen,1147-1216)。寶帳大黑天與薩迦派淵源甚深,而初祖薩千貢噶寧波相傳是寶帳大黑天修法的大師。三位祖師的描繪極為精湛細緻,衣褶繁複多樣,指節生動,毫髮清晰,絲絲可見,腕上 念珠生動可見,不差毫釐,唯妙唯肖,巧奪天工。

    祖師之下,群山岩壁下屍陀林的場景駭人心魄,一人為豹所食,一人為牛所傷其胸,雪豹與猛虎惡鬥,人骨半隱半顯,彩繪水準精湛。而唐卡底部描繪的場景同樣駭人,大黑天的兩位侍者,二臂一髻佛母,四臂吉祥天母,一同守衛著五覺供品。

    此唐卡可能繪製於拉薩附近的貢嘎曲德寺或具有同樣顯赫地位的藏中薩迦寺廟,畫師的技巧兼具各派之長,但以欽則風格為主。貢嘎曲德寺為欽則畫派宗師欽則欽莫(活躍於1450-90年)的主要作品藏地。此幅畫作中寶帳大黑天旋轉的髮髻及燃燒的烈火背光與貢嘎曲德寺壁畫上的忿怒尊表現相似(出處:Jackson,《A Revolutionary Artist of Tibet》,紐約,2016年,頁65及96-7,圖2.22及4.22-4)。與此同時壁畫上烏鴉啄食人內臟的內容也許直接源自貢嘎曲德寺之護法殿的壁畫(同上,頁70,圖3.5)。

    然而十八世紀多見融合多種繪畫傳統的作品。此處畫師描繪的金色嶙峋山巒即展現了其對於新勉塘畫派的熟捻。事實上,相比藏於紐約魯賓博物館的一幅主要體現新勉塘風格的大黑天唐卡,本作品的畫工更勝一籌(參見喜瑪拉雅藝術資源65004號;Linrothe 及 Watt著 Demonic Divine ,紐約,2004年,81頁,圖2.28)。十七世紀五世逹賴喇嘛阿旺羅桑嘉措(1617-1682年)平定騷亂統一西藏後,在格魯派強權統治對藝術的支持下,西藏中部地區於十八世紀空前繁榮。他的統一政策包括試圖讓西藏視覺藝術同質化。十七世紀畫派林立風格渾沌,而到十八世紀風格逐漸統一,在這幅既大方簡潔、內容豐富、毫無瑕疵的傑作中展露無疑。

    大黑天具有震攝力的結綵皇冠骷髏頭與2001年在北京展覽的吉祥天唐卡上有相似之處,詳見《金色寶藏: 西藏歷史文物選萃》,北京,2001年,頁106。畫面右下角吉祥天母坐騎上懸掛人皮的表現手法,與台北故宮博物院所藏1669年製的康熙泥金寫本《藏文龍藏經》中繪製的獅面空行母與馬頭明王所批人皮相似,詳見宋兆霖編《唵嘛呢叭咪吽-院藏藏傳佛教文物》,台北,2015年,頁130-1。另外一幅相關的大黑天唐卡現藏於倫敦維多利亞與阿爾伯特博物館(館藏編號IM.31-1937),其肩披勉帛帶上的花紋和所持天杖十分類似。

    可參考比較另兩張黑唐卡,一出版於Rochell & Rossi的《Masterpieces of Himalayan Art》,紐約,2009年,編號23;另一於1985年九月於紐約蘇富比售出,拍品158號,現藏於瑞士巴塞爾民俗博物館,詳見Essen and Tingo,《Die Gotter des Hialayan》,慕尼黑,1989年,頁225,138c號。 

    著錄
    Ann W. Norton,《Gods, Saints and Demons: Hindu and Tibetan Art》,斯托斯,康乃狄克州,1989年,頁18,65號。 

    展覽
    Gods, Saints and Demons: Hindu and Tibetan Art,康乃狄大學博物館(The Benton Museum),斯托斯,康乃狄克州,1989年1月23日 - 3月12日。

    來源
    比利時駐華大使,二十世紀初
    Henri Kamer,紐約,七十年代前後
    美國新英格蘭私人收藏
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A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA  CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY
A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA  CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY
A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA  CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY
A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA  CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY
A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA  CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY
A BLACKGROUND THANGKA OF PANJARNATA MAHAKALA  CENTRAL TIBET, 18TH CENTURY
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