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Past exhibition

Special Exhibition
The Khubilghan: The Incarnated Lamas of the Qing Dynasty and Related Artifacts
Bddhism started to spread to other parts of Asia in the 3rd century BC and reached the Han Chinese sphere in the early 1st century. The religion was introduced into Tibet a few hundred years later in the 7th century. While Tibetan Buddhism mostly inherited the characteristics of late Mahāyāna Buddhism, which has its origins in India, it also incorporated some elements of Chinese Buddhism and native customs to form a unique belief system.

The different schools of Tibetan Buddhism each developed a system of reincarnation lineage, and the reincarnated spiritual teacher is known as tulku in Tibetan and huofo (living Buddha) in the Chinese world. The tulku tradition, non-existcent in either India or China, was gradually established in Tibet over the course of hundreds of years.  In the two primary periods of the development of Tibetan Buddhism, the ngadar (first diffusion, 7th-9th century) and the chidar (later diffusion, revival in the late 10th century), leadership was transmitted from teachers to disciples or through family bloodlines at all monasteries. In the 13th century, the Karma Kagyu School became the first to adopt the reincarnation system, and by the 15th century the practice had spread to other schools. Today, it is one of the main forms of lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. 

In the 15th century, Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) founded the Gelug School, and its lineage was in the early days passed from masters to disciples. However, it later embraced the reincarnation system. In the late 16th century, the Gelug School emerged as the preeminent Buddhist school in Mongolia, and the term khubilghan (the Mongolian equivalent of tulku) appeared. Through the Mongols the Manchus also came into contact with Tibetan Buddhism, and after their conquest of China the Qing empire elevated the Gelug School into a shared faith of the Manchus, Mongols and Tibetans. In addition, the Qing court established a comprehensive official endorsement system for the incarnations of khubilghans by bestowing titles on religious leaders and by accepting their tributes. In so doing the court was putting the Gelug School in charge of political and religious affairs in the Mongolian and Tibetan regions.

This special exhibition presents artifacts relating to the incarnated lamas of the Qing dynasty, and provides a systematic view of the Qing court's interactions with important khubilghans as well as the features of Tibetan Buddhist works of art in the Qing imperial collection.
Exhibition Information
  • Event Date 2020-08-01~2020-11-01
  • Location 3F S304
Cast by imperial workshop, 18th century
Statue of Vajradharma
  • Collection of the Garuda Tibetan Art Museum
This is typical of the style of Liupin Folou (Six Buddhist Class Temples).  The statue of this three-faced, six-armed deity embracing his consort is very rare, and is a fine piece both in terms of iconography and artistic expression.  The construction of the Liupin Folou by the Qianlong emperor shows his fascination with the Gelug School system of deities.
Cast by imperial workshop, 46th year of the Qianlong reign (1782), Qing dynasty
Gold statue of Tsongkhapa
According to the inscription on the back, this statue cast in gold was modeled after a Tibetan work in the 46th year of the Qianlong reign (1782).  Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) performs the vitarka mudrā, or gesture of discussion and transmission of Buddhist teaching, in front of his chest.  He holds a lotus flower in each hand, with a sūtra book on top of the left lotus and a sword on top of the right one.  Both the sūtra book and the sword symbolize wisdom and indicate that the founder of the Yellow Sect was the manifestation of Mañjuśrī.
Made in Tibet, Shunzhi reign (1644-1662), Qing dynasty
Gold mandala with turquoise and coral inlays
This mandala uses turquoise in various shapes to represent Mount Meru, the four island-continents, the seven rings of golden mountains, the sun, and the moon, and the edge is decorated with large coral beads.  It was worshipped in the Xihuang Monastery after it was brought to the court by the Fifth Dalai Lama during the Shunzhi reign (1643-1661), and later on it was moved by the Changkya Khutukhtu to the inner court.  The metal craftsmanship and the quality of the turquoise and coral are all of the highest level.
Made in Tibet, Second half of 17th century
The Origin of the Panchen Lineage: the Second Panchen Erdeni
  • Collection of the Garuda Tibetan Art Museum
This is a collection of portraits of the Panchen lineage.  Historical records show that the earliest portraits of this collection were painted by the renowned artist Chos dbyings rgya mtsho (active in the mid-17th century) of Rear Tibet, who was also the founder of the new Menbris style.  The portrait of the Second Panchen exhibits fine brushwork and coloring and is likely among the earlier portraits in this collection.
Qing dynasty
Brdan-bzhugs presented by the Sixth Panchen Erdeni
In the 45th year of the Qianlong reign (1780), the Sixth Panchen (1738-1780) was invited to attend the celebratory events of the emperor’s 70th birthday.  This brdan-bzhugs (birthday prayer), a reflection upon the emperor’s eleven reincarnations in the past, was written on the 20th day of the 8th month of that year (September 18, 1780) at the the Xumi Fushou Temple in Jehol.  The Sixth Panchen noted that it was what he felt inside when meeting with the Qianlong emperor.
Vermilion printed Manchu edition, 55th year of the Qianlong reign (1790), Qing dynasty
Qingwen Quanzangjing (Kangyur in Manchu Script, or, Qianlong Kangyur)
The production of the Kangyur in Manchu script began in the 37th year of the Qianlong reign.  At the time, the Kangyur had been rendered in Mongolian, Tibetan, and Chinese scripts, except for the Manchu version, so the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795) put the Third Changkya Khutukhtu (1716-1786) in charge of the translation project.  The 108-case Kangyur in Manchu script was completed in the 55th year of the Qianlong reign (1790).  Twelve copies of the Qianlong Kangyur were printed in vermilion ink in double-sided format.  Only two copies are extant today, however: one is housed in the Hall of Sa-gsum Lha-khang in the Potala Palace, Lhasa, and the other is preserved in the National Palace Museum in Taipei (32 cases) and the Palace Museum in Beijing (76 cases).
Made in Inner Mongolia, 18th century
Statue of Vajrapani
  • Collection of Hung’s Arts Foundation
With his stocky body and three round and fierce eyes, as well as bared teeth and protruding tongue, the wrathful-looking Vajrapāņi is believed to possess threatening power to subdue demons. In Tibetan Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara, Mañjuśrī, and Vajrapāņi are called “the three protective deities" (rigs gsum mgon po), manifesting Buddha's wisdom, compassion, and power. The gilding is sumptuous and both the curved fingers performing the tarjani-mudrā gesture and raised toes appear supple, making this work a rare and fine specimen from Inner Mongolia.
Collection of the Mongolian and Tibetan Cultural Center, Ministry of Culture
This is the six-syllable mantra Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ handwritten by the Seventh Changkya Khutukhtu in Sanskrit and Tibetan scripts.
Submitted by Crown Prince Yunreng (1674-1725) 25th day of the 2nd month of the 36th year of the Kangxi reign (March 17, 1697), Qing dynasty
Palace memorial on the bestowing of ginseng and other medications upon the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu
During the invasion of the Khalkha by the Dzungars in the 27th year of the Kangxi reign (1688), the First Jebtsundamba Khutuktu (1635-1723) leader led other Khalkha Mongol nobles to pay homage to the Kangxi emperor (r. 1661-1722) and submit to Qing rule.  In the winter of the 30th year of the Kangxi reign (1691), the First Jebtsundamba Khutuktu was invited by the emperor to visit Beijing, and he did not return to his home region until the 39th year of the emperor’s reign (1700).  The Manchu palace memorial submitted by Crown Prince Yunreng (1674-1725) indicate that the Kangxi emperor respected the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu very much.
Produced by imperial workshop, Qing dynasty
Ivory ceremonial costume and hat
A skull headpiece adorned with the Five Dhyāni Buddhas made of ivory or animal bones and a skirt decorated with strings of jewelry are part of the costumes worn by dancing lamas at Mongolian and Tibetan festivals and rituals.  This headpiece is decorated with Sanskrit letters representing the Five Dhyāni Buddhas.  The elaborate skirt is embellished around the waist with dharma wheels, vajras, pendants, and bells.  Both items were made in the imperial workshop and originally stored in the Yangxindian Hall, the emperor’s living quarters.
Qing dynasty
Gilt bronze stūpa with the Five Merits Sūtra on a wooden pedestal
Inside the drawer of the wooden pedestal inlaid with jade is the Five Blessings and Virtues Sūtra, and on top of the pedestal is a gilt bronze Tibetan-style stūpa.  Under the dome is a circular Vijaya stūpa with three steps, and in the niche is a colorful painted Uṣṇīṣavijayā.  Shapes of animals are etched into the base of the stūpa, including an elephant, and beneath the stūpa are carved cross-vajras.  The fluid carved lines, sumptuously round shape of the stūpa, and balanced proportions make this item a fine specimen from the workshop of the First Jebtsundamba Khutuktu in Mongolia.
Made in Tibet, 18th-19th century
Statue of Uṣṇīṣa Sitātapatrā
  • Collection of the Ga-te Studio
This statue is the Sitātapatrā-dhāraṇī in the form of a deity.  Followers believe that reciting the Sitātapatrā-dhāraṇī will ward off disaster and disease and even protect the state.  This statue, with its thousand faces, arms, and legs, shows the commonest iconography.  The three main heads consist of a wrathful form in the middle and two peaceful forms either side.  The right hand of the main arm holds a dharma wheel, while the left hand would have held the deity’s most identifiable feature, a white parasol that wards off all karma, but this is now missing.  The other hands are arranged in a fan pattern.  Beneath her thousand feet are the sentient beings under her protection, and behind her blazing flames.