Tibetan Gilt Bronze Karmapa - PF.5503
Origin: Tibet
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 18 th Century AD
Dimensions: 7.625" (19.4cm) high x 5.125" (13.0cm) wide
Collection: Tibetan
Style: Tibetan
Medium: Gilt Bronze


This Tibetan gilt bronze portrait of a Karmapa is seated on high lotus throne with a pendant over his knees. He is wearing patchwork monastic robes that are finely stippled and incised on the borders with floral motifs. He is crowned with a hat of the Kagyu sect. This headdress is adorned with supturned lappets, foliate motifs, and the emblem of the sun and crescent moon. The adoration of Karmapa was often expressed through the production of statuary. Devout worshippers touched the divine images, asking for the Karmapa's protection and mercy in prayer.

The coming of the first Karmapa fulfilled a prophecy (mentioned in the Samadhiraja Sutra and the Mahakaruna Pundarika Sutra) by Shakyamuni Buddha that this emanation of the Great Compassionate One (Bodhisattva Chenrezi, Skt. Avalokiteshvara) would appear in the world in order to alleviate the sufferings of sentient beings in the Dark Age. According to predictions, He will be the sixth Buddha in this eon of a thousand Buddhas, the one after the coming of the Buddha Maitreya. He will be known as Buddha Simha, the Lion. The Good Age Sutra says: "...Born into a royal family... His father's name will mean 'Lion Tiger' and His mother's 'Roar of Joy'... In a first wave of dharma He will teach a thousand million beings, in a second wave nine hundred million and in a third wave some eight hundred million..."

In the history of Tibet, His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, the holder of the Black Vajra Crown and the head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage, was the first Tulku to consciously incarnate. The 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa was the foremost disciple of the famous Gampopa from Dakpo. He was born in Doh Kham, in the year of the Iron Tiger (1110 A.D.). Dusum Khyenpa means, He who possesses the extraordinary ability of knowledge of the three times and therefore is able to see into the past, present and future. He founded three main centers: Tolung Tsurphu (the mind mandala of the Karmapas), Karma Gön (the speech mandala) and Kampo Nenang (the body mandala). Of the three, Tsurphu Monastery became the main seat of all the Karmapas. Through Him the Oral Transmission known as the Golden Rosary/or Mala has been passed down in an unbroken lineage until today. The treasure revealer Ngadak Nyang said: "Each moment He will guide countless sentient beings. Whoever sees, hears of, thinks of Him or is touched by Him, will be born in the presence of the Buddha after that life." - (PF.5503)



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