Painted clay figure of lama
Circa 1902, Tibet
Height: 22.2 cm, 8.7 inches
The figure is seated on a lotus base, with his right hand raised in the Abhaya Mudra (Gesture of Fearlessness), and the left holds a sutra (prayer).
The portrait is of an important incarnate lama of the Karma Kagyu monastic order, his name, bstan pai’I nyi ma is inscribed in Tibetan print letters on the back of the sculpture. He was the 10th incarnation of the Karma pa rgyal tshab lineage of mTshur phu monastery, he lived circa 1877-1901.
Rgyal tshab means literally “substitute for the Victorious one”, i.e. the Buddha. There are three major Karma pa lineages, the black hat Karma pa, the red hat Karma pa and the rGyal tshab Karma pa.
The image was most likely made in honour of his memory in a ceremony one year after his death, i.e. circa 1902.