Milarepa on Mount Kailash

Vibrantly colored mythical scene depicting people, animals, and dragons in front of mountains.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • Vibrantly colored mythical scene depicting people, animals, and dragons in front of mountains.

Date:

c. 1500

Artist:

Tibet

About this artwork

Milarepa (1040–1123) was a beloved Tibetan singer-poet, mystic, teacher, and saint whose name means “cotton-clad,” is usually shown clothed in thin white cotton and cupping a hand to his ear—a gesture typical of singers in India and the Himalayas—to enhance his hearing while blocking out extraneous noise. In this thangka, a painted cloth that can be rolled up for portability, Milarepa sits in a cave on Mount Kailash, which is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. In front of him, Lake Manasarovar (Marpam) flows by in wavy blue and green bands. Milarepa is flanked by his disciples, and his teacher, Marpa, appears in a medal-lion above him. The dazzling snow-covered peaks frame each of the central figures, and below them multicolored foothills appear as prismatic spikes refracting the sun’s rays like jewels. Along the perimeter of the thangka, the five sisters of long life ride their mounts, accompanying Milarepa wherever he preaches his doctrine. The sacred peaks and lakes of the Himalayas have inspired numerous works of art—Milarepa, for example, wrote one hundred thousand songs about them. The other side of this textile contains a long inscription in Tibetan, demonstrating that this is one of the earliest representations of Milarepa.

Currently Off View

Asian Art

Title

Milarepa on Mount Kailash

Origin

Tibet

Date

1400–1500

Medium

Pigment and gold on cotton

Dimensions

45.5 × 30 cm (17 7/8 × 11 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

Asian Purchase Campaign Endowment and Robert Ross Fund

Reference Number

1995.277

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share