MARPA, 2010

acrylic on paper
30 x 22 inches (sheet)
33 x 25 inches (frame)

This portrait of Marpa the Translator is based on a 13th century Tibetan painting.  In the Vajrayana tradition—the quick method–portraiture, like biography, was very important because it showed how real people got on the spiritual path and attained enlightenment in one lifetime. Marpa (1012-1097) made three trips to India where he met and studied with various enlightened masters, underwent numerous tests and trials, and collected teachings and manuscripts, which, when he returned home, he translated into Tibetan.  His most important student was Milarepa, and in transmitting the teachings to him, he established the Kagyu lineage. Here Marpa is seated on the throne of wisdom with his hands in the teaching mudra.  This is an idealized portrait as it doesn’t depict his notoriously gruff and difficult personality.

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