Image 2: Tsongkhapa with Two of His Disciples

Shambhala and the Prague Thangka: The Myth’s Visual Representation

Image 2: Tsongkhapa with Two of His Disciples

Three historical figures, all of whom entered the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, preside in the highest central position of the painting. The founder of the Gelugpa order, Tsongkhapa (Tib. Tsong kha pa), born Lozang Dragpa (Tib. Blo bzang grags pa, 1357–1419), sits in the middle with his most outstanding disciples at either side. The first, depicted to the teacher’s right, is Gyaltshab Darma Rinchen (Tib. rGyal tshab dar ma rin chen, 1364–1432); he was the abbott of Ganden Monastery after Tsongkhapa’s death, from 1419 to 1431. To the teacher’s left sits Khadrub Geleg Pelzangpo (Tib. mKhas grub dge legs dpal bzang po, 1385–1438), who was the abbott of Ganden Monastery from 1431 until his death in 1438. The situation of these three figures in the most prominent place in the picture suggests that the painter created the thangka for someone who was either a member of the Gelugpa order or close to it.