Three Mahasiddhas: Kontapa, Naropa and Atisha


Anonymous - Three Mahasiddhas: Kontapa, Naropa and Atisha
Scenes from the lives of wonderworkers (the so-called “mahasiddhas”), who brought Buddhism to Tibet, are a principal theme in Buddhist painting. They are usually portrayed in a series of eighty-four figures, of which the NG owns four thangkas. Kontapa sits on a throne dressed in a simple loincloth and adorned with mahasiddhan jewels. Together with two male figures, he observes a maiden climbing onto a cloud filled with treasures. Naropa, in the bottom left corner, wears jewels made of bones and skulls. He is garbed in a human skin thrown over his back and his spiritual mate, likely his daughter, winds around his right leg. Atisha, or by his own name Dipamkara Shri Jnana (982–1054), was a scholar of Bengali origin. He arrived in Tibet in 1042, taught Buddhism and translated sacred texts from Sanskrit. That is why he is sometimes portrayed among the mahasiddhas.
measurements: height 74,9 cm
width 49,3 cm
material: cotton
technique: colors – gold
inventory number: Vm 2757
gallery collection: Collection of Asian and African Art