Tuesday, September 15, 2009
There are four paintings that depict the Tibetan yogi Milarepa in a similar composition and posture. They are numbered one through four and arranged according to a possible chronology of oldest to youngest. All four figures have essentially the same posture, head and facial features, along with wardrobe and deerskin mat, seated above a rocky outcropping. Starting on the left, composition #1 states that it was "painted by the hand of Choggyur Lingpa." If the inscription is in fact accurate then it would likely have been painted sometime between the mid 1800s and 1870. The significant questions are, did Choggyur Lingpa copy a previous model for the form of Milarepa or did he create this composition from his own imagination? Was Choggyur Lingpa known as an artist as well as a Kagyu and Nyingma Terton - "Treasure Discoverer"? Does his biography mention or provide a list of the artworks he created? Paintings #1 and #2 are the closest in depiction, but it is obvious that all four are based on the same model.