This rare silk thanka testifies to the extraordinary skill of Ch'ing dynasty weavers. The entire composition was created on the loom, most likely copied from Tibetan woodblock prints. This represents another instance, similar to the green jade Tara in this exhibit, where Chinese craftsmen adapted their art to the service of Tibetan Buddhism.
Mkhas-grub Rje was one of the primary disciples of Tsong- ka-pa (1357-1419), who founded the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. He is shown here making a mandala offering to his great teacher, who sits above on a white elephant surrounded by clouds. (Another version of Tsong-ka-pa is seen in the gilt bronze statue in this same exhibit.) A fellow monk assists Mkhas-grub Rje at his outdoor shrine, while the six-armed guardian Mahakala occupies the lower left corner. At the upper right, Yamantaka, Conqueror of Death, poses with his consort; he is also the subject of the sand mandala featured in this gallery.