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Future Buddha Maitreya Flanked by the Eighth Dalai Lama and His Tutor, 1793-94

Tibet, 1793-1794
Appliquéd silk
image: 165 x 125 in. (419.1 x 317.5 cm); overall: 268 x 177 in. (680.7 x 449.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
M.1975.01.T
© 2012 Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on view

This appliquéd thanka was commissioned in 1793 by the Eighth Dalai Lama (1758-1804) to commemorate the death of his tutor, Yeshe Gyaltsen. Created for the Dalai Lama's personal use, it once hung in his private chapel in Lhasa. Tibet is well known for its large thankas, which can be painted, woven, embroidered, or appliquéd. The central figure is Maitreya, whose distinctive attributes are a golden body, a miniature stupa lodged in his hair, and a hand gesture that shows him turning the wheel of law. Known as the future Buddha, Maitreya will succeed the Buddha Shakyamuni on earth. Until that time, he resides in the heaven called Tushita, where he teaches the dharma. Above Maitreya is Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), the founder of the Yellow Sect, or Geluk (Gelupga), order of Buddhism.


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