Chokyi Lodro and Milarepa
Tibet; 16th century
Pigments on cloth
F1997.39.5 (HAR 562)
In Tibetan Buddhism the specific lineage of teachers of each school is carefully documented through sets of paintings. The lineage always begins with a divine figure and then shows Indian teachers followed by Tibetan teachers in chronological order.
This painting is part of a larger set of twelve paintings. Tibetan hanging scrolls, known as thangkas, were often commissioned by patrons who would decide how many paintings to include in the set. The set that this painting comes from depicts the first two teachers of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The series was commissioned during the life of the Karmapa Wangchug Dorje (1555-1603).
At the left-center is Marpa Chokyi Lodro, the founder of this Buddhist tradition that emphasizes intensive meditation. On the right is Marpa’s most famous student, Milarepa, who is known as one of the greatest yogi-poets of Tibet.