Himalayan Art Resources

Item: King - of Shambhala

རྒྱལ་པོ། 国王
(item no. 127)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Uncertain
Size 33.02x20.32cm (13x8in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1995.11.2
Painting School Palpung / Situ
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: King

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Sureshana, 7th King of Shambhala (Tibetan: Lha'i Wangden): father of the first Kulika King.

Dynamic in appearance with one face and two hands he wields a sword upraised with the right and protects with a round orange shield on the left. Facing forward, displaying a small moustache, he is adorned with a gold crown and white cloth headdress topped with a jewel and further decorated with earrings, necklaces, bracelets, silk gowns, brocades of various colours and the like. With one colourful boot exposed, in a relaxed posture he sits atop a cushioned throne of gold, square and etched with designs. Sureshana was the father of Manujkirti the founder of the Kulika (Tib.: rig den) lineage of descent.

At the top center is the future Buddha Maitreya (name inscription in fine gold lettering beneath), orange in colour, with one face and two hands performing the Dharma teaching mudra (gesture) at the heart. Wearing red robes and with the right arm bare he sits in vajra posture above a moon disc and orange lotus blossom surrounded by a pink nimbus and dark green areola, wreathed on both sides by ribbons of rainbow light extending downward to the Kulika king. At the left side a gold eight-spoked Dharma wheel is framed against an orange solar disc floating on white billowing clouds.

The seven precious jewels of royal power surround the throne. A small red table in front supports an incense burner, the precious (1) Dharma wheel, gold in colour, and flower vases, gold and white. In front at the right the precious (2) queen offers the precious (3) jewel accompanied by five individuals of varying social status. Offerings of various objects are stacked below - fabrics, animal pelts, grains and a warrior's armour. At the left the precious (4) minister offers a white ceremonial scarf. At the right the precious (5) general of the armies stands ready holding a banner and sword. At the lower left stand the precious white (6) elephant and dark blue (7) horse. (A cryptic name inscription is written in gold lettering on the front of the table).

The hidden Tantric Buddhist kingdom of Shambhala is located somewhere in north central Asia. The hereditary Kings are the guardians of the Kalachakra Tantra and maintain in the center of the country, in the capital city of Kalapa, a large temple containing a permanent three-dimensional mandala of the deity.

Jeff Watt 3-99

Front of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: Byams pa. Rgyal po dud.

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery VI
Kings: Main Page & King Appearance
Painting Style: Kham Region (Kham-ri)
Kings: Shambhala Kings Main Page
Kings: Shambhala (Set 6)