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Deities and Devotion in Mongolian Buddhist Art

The Seventh Dalai Lama
19th century
Pigments and gold on sized cloth; silver, copper and glass case
14.9 x 10.8 cm.

Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton, 2014.23.398

The Seventh Dalai Lama, Kalzang Gyatso (1708-1757), was revered during his lifetime and afterward as a highly devout, morally upright cleric, scholar and poet. He restored spiritual legitimacy to the Dalai Lama position after political disputes led to two different people being recognized as the Sixth Dalai Lama. This painting portrays the Seventh Dalai Lama seated on a textile-covered, heavily-jeweled lion throne, wearing the robes and hat of his office. His right hand holds a lotus that supports a golden dharma wheel emblem. His left hand holds a wrapped sutra. A small altar table in front of his throne is set with various religious objects, including a skull-form hand drum, a bell, an alms bowl, a spouted ritual vase containing a spray of peacock feathers, and an offering jar.

Reference: Fleming, Zara (ed.). Mongolian Buddhist Art: Masterpieces from the Museums of Mongolia. Volume 1, Parts 1 & 2: Thangkas, Appliqu├ęs and Embroideries. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2011, pp. 318-323.