University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Native NameThangka
Object Number: 49-13-1
Current Location: Collections storage
Tibetan Buddhist
Provenience: Tibet
Date Made: 19th Century
Early Date: 1800
Late Date: 1899
Yidam Samvara
Buddhist Spiritual Being
Credit Line:Gift of John F. Lewis, Jr., 1949


The acharya (holy man) Bhavaviveka, a great Buddhist teacher, founder of a school of Buddhism in India, and one of the line of previous incarnations of the Panchen Lamas of Tibet. He is represented as seated in a garden in front of his house converting a heretic from the sect of the naked ascetics (Digambaras). Below him, an ascetic who has been converted is receiving the tonsure at the hands of a monk, while an earlier convert presents him with a robe. Upper right is Nargarjuna (c. 2nd century CE), a previous great teacher of Buddhism, whose doctrines Bhavaviveka followed: upper left is a form of the Yidam Samvara (with his consort), B.'s tutelary deity: lower left is a form of Mahakala, B's demon-protector: all considered as helping him in the process of extending the faith. This is a fine example of a Tibetan religious painting in which the apparently disconnected elements are actually closely related in a single theme. Some chinese characters appear on the back. A similar painting of the same subject is shown in J. Hackin, Asiatic Mythology (London, 1932), p. 172.

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