Jangchup Gyaltsen
ca. 15th century
Gilt copper with painted details
height 25.5 cm (10 in)
Private collection, Milan, acquired in 2003 Private European collection, acquired in the 1980s

Homage to the Holy – Portraits of Tibet’s Spiritual Teacher, Rossi & Rossi, London (6–28 November 2003)

TEFAF, Maastricht (10-18 March 2018)


Homage to the Holy – Portraits of Tibet’s Spiritual Teachers (London: Rossi & Rossi, 2003), pl. 31

Huang, Chunhe (ed.), Studies of History of gDan-sa-mthil Monastery of Tibet (Beijing: Wenwu Publishing House, 2016), p. 128

The formidable lama portrayed in this gilt copper sculpture is identified by inscription as Jangchup Gyaltsen (1302-1362). He wears monastic garb and is seated with hands in the gesture of teaching, dharmachakra-mudra. The character of the man is drawn in a steadfast expression on his elderly face, with furrowed brow and sunken cheeks. A straggling beard runs along the jaw line. Jangchup Gyaltsen was the highly influential Tibetan leader of the Lang family during the period of the demise of the Sakya power accord with the imperial Mongol court in China. While based at the monasteries of Densatil and Neudong he managed to overthrow the Sakya Throne Holder's regency, ending the clan's long political hegemony. He released Tibet from subjugation by China. He went a long way in uniting 0 and Tsang, the central regions of Tibet, following prolonged division in the country. He restored a stability in the politics of Tibet long lost in power struggles and corruption. He revived national laws and customs based on the ideals of the ancient kings. As the strength of purpose would suggest from his portrait, Jangchup Gyaltsen achieved his moral and political goals during an eventful life. Giuseppe Tucci describes him as "undoubtedly one of the most remarkable men Tibet ever produced".