Marpa the Translator receiving Milarepa – by Karmapa 10 Chöying Dorje
  See it in the Museum
Orientation 4
Wall object 17

ABP 058

 Code: ABP 058

  Country: Tibet (east)


  Date: 1600 - 1700

  Dimensions in cm WxHxD: 31.4 x 50.5

  Materials: Distemper on silk

Marpa Lotsaba Receives Milarepa Painted by the Tenth Karmapa Chöying Dorje
Eastern Tibet or in the Kingdom of Lijiang in Yunnan; 17th Century
Distemper on silk. Without restorations. The original textile mounting is lost. Size: 50.5 x 31.4 cm.
This paintings on silk is attributed by an inscription to Chöying Dorje, the Tenth Karmapa (1604–1674). It depicts in the centre Marpa Lotsaba (1012–1097), the founder of the Kagyü tradition, and the principal teacher of Milarepa (1040–1123). Marpa is clad in the voluminous garments of a lay tantric master. Seated on the proper left side of Marpa is his wife bDag med ma, with a green dress, and in the foreground is a young men dressed in a red robe feeding a cow resting in front of a horse, possibly to be identified as their son Dar ma mdo sde. On the proper right side of Mar pa is a young man carrying the shoulder bag of a traveller. He might represent the young Milarepa asking for teachings. Marpa and his entourage are surrounded by numerous animals, among them mountain sheep, cows, a cock with colourful feathers, a hen, and even a fish. In the upper part of the painting are representations of Mahasiddhas: On the left side possibly the lineage holders Tilopa (988–1069) teaching Naropa (956–1040). Depicted in the centre is Naropa teaching Marpa Lotsaba, attended by his wife bDag med ma. On the right an unidentified master teaching perhaps Milarepa with a white scarf over the shoulders holding in his lap a dog. The Karmapa’s approach to painting and sculpture is unique. This is most apparent in the way he fashions the expressions and shapes of the faces. The compassionate and realistic rendering of wildlife is another typical feature encountered in his works. An inscription states that this painting was made by Chöying Dorje and presented to his close disciple Kuntu Zangpo: || mar pa lo tså’i sku brnyan ’di rje btsun chos dbyings rdo rje phyag bris thugs sras kun tu bzang po la gnang ba byin brlabs can ||. “This image of Mar pa the translator is a spiritually charged painting [by] the venerable Chos dbyings rdo rje that he gave to his intimate disciple Kun tu bzang po”. (Translated by D. P. Jackson). This inscription as indicated by the honorifics was not written by Chöying Dorje but has been added by somebody else. The painting could date earliest from 1641, when the Karmapa for the first time met Kuntu Zangpo, unless the inscription was added to a painting done earlier. Only very few of the paintings attributed to Chöying Dorje have an dedicatory inscription. This much published painting on silk by Chöying Dorje is not only an outstanding work of art, but also very significant due to the profound spiritual and historical connection with the Kagyü tradition.
[Alain Bordier Foundation]
Provenance: Ulrich von Schroeder Collection, 2021. 
Acquired in Kathmandu in 1998.

Alsop, Ian, 2013. articles/10karmapa/index. html. Asianart.

Bock, Etienne; Falcombello, Jean-Marc; Jenny Magali, 2022. Trésors du Tibet. Sur les pas de Milarépa.. Paris: Flammarion. P. 274-275 détails p. 271

Bonhams, 2016. Huang Chunhe. Masterpieces of Himalayan Art from the Collection of Ulrich von Schroeder.. Bonhams. Tuesday November 29, 2016: pp. 26–37: Marpa, Chöying Dorje

Debreczeny, Karl, 2003. “The Buddha’s Law Among the ’Jang: The 10th Karma-pa’s Development of his ‘Chinese-Style Thangka Painting’ in the Kingdom of Lijiang”, Orientations, Vol. 34, No. 4. Orientation. p. 48, fig. 4

Debreczeny, Karl, 2012. The Black Hat Eccentric: Artistic Vision of the Tenth Karmapa. catalogue of the exhibition held at the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2012. pp. 24–25, 178–179, figs. 0.5 & 6.6: Mar pa Lo tså ba (1012–1097), receives Mi la ras pa. Chöying Dorje (1604–1674)

Debreczeny, Karl, 2020. Recrafting Remote Antiquity: Art of the Tenth Karmapa". Arts of Asia, Vol. 50, No. 6: 82. Arts of Asia. figs. 10–11: Marpa Lotsawa (1012–1097). Attributed by inscription to Chöying Dorje (1604– 1674)

Karmapa 900 Organizing Committee, 2010. Karmapa 1110 – 2010 – 900 Years: Commemorative Book for Celebration of the 900th Anniversary of the Birth of the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, p. 38: Marpa Lotsåwa receives Milarepa, as Dagmema looks on. The inscription in the lower right tells us that it was painted by the Tenth Karmapa, Chöying Dorje, and given to his disciple Kuntu Zangpo. . Sidhbari, Dist. Kangra, H.P., India: Gyuto Ramoche Temple.

Mengele, Irmgard, 2005. The Life and Art of the Tenth Karma-pa Chos-dbyings-rdo-rje (1604-1674): A Biography of a Great Tibetan Lama and Artist of the Turbulent Seventeenth Century.. [Dissertation. Universität Hamburg. Asien-Afrika-Institut. Abteilung für Kultur und Geschichte Indiens und Tibets].

Mengele, Irmgard, 2012. Riding a Huge Wave of Karma: The Turbulent Life of the Tenth Karma-pa. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications. p. 346, pl. 5: Marpa Lo-tsa-va Chos-kyi-blo-gros (1012–1097) on silk, with inscription

Shamar Rinpoche, 2012. A Golden Swan in Turbulent Waters: The Life and Times of the Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje. Bird of Paradise Press. pp. 56, 64, fig. 3: Marpa receives Milarepa. Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje. The figure clad in brown with a blue shoulder bag likely is Milarepa who appears to be seeking teaching from Marpa. An inscription on the thangka states that he painted it and presented it to his close disciple and attendant Kunto Zangpo. The figure dressed in green is Marpa's wife Dagmed Ma

von Schroeder, Ulrich, 2001. Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet. Vol. One: India & Nepal; Vol. Two: Tibet & China. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma Publications, Ltd.. pp. 807–808, 810, fig. XII–23: Mar pa Lo tså ba (1012–1097), attended by his wife bDag med ma, receives Mi la ras pa (1040– 1123). According to the inscription, this work was painted by the Tenth Karma pa Chos dbyings rdo rje (1604–1674).

Wenhua, Luo, 2016. “A Survey of a Willow-branch Guanyin Attributed to the Tenth Karmapa in the Palace Museum and Related Questions”. In: The Tenth Karmapa & Tibets Turbulent Seventeenth Century. Edited by Debreczeny, Karl and Tuttle, Grey. Serindia Publications, Inc. pp. 168, 172, fig. 7.15: Marpa, Chöying Dorje (1604– 1674)