Footprints of the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje

Footprints of the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje

Footprints of the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje

This painting (click to enlarge), recently uploaded to the Himalayan Art Resource website, shows the footprints of the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339). The footprints are accompanied by the early Marpa Kagyu lineage, predecessors to the Karma Kagyu lineage, along with Buddhas, protectors and wealth aspects. The custom of having drawings done based on the physical outline of a teachers feet appears to be an oral instruction coming down from Gampopa.

Jeff Watt writes:

The main subject of the painting is the large pair of footprints in the center of the composition. They are both painted in gold and adorned with an eight-spoked wheel, symbolizing the teachings of the Buddhist religion, at the hollow of the foot. The two feet situated on the heels stand atop a moon disc adorned with flowers and vines and multi-coloured double lotus seat. Below that is a very small thin horizontal plane signifying a throne. Again below that is the stem of the lotus seat springing forth from a golden vase atop a multi-coloured vishva-vajra attended by two naga figures with the lower bodies in the shape of a coiled snake.

Between the two feet is an ornate stylized column in the shape of vines and flowers unfurling at the top as a blue utpala flower supporting the central figure and lotus seat of Karmapa Rangjung Dorje.

At the left and right of the two feet are the Eight Auspicious Symbols entwined in a vine motif: (1) Parasol, (2) Golden Fish, (3 ) Treasure Vase, (4) Lotus, (5) Right-turning Conch Shell, (6) Glorious Endless Knot, (7) Victory Sign and (8) Wheel.

…In the top register starting on the far left is blue Vajradhara, yellow Shakyamuni Buddha followed by the Five Symbolic Buddhas of Vajrayana Buddhism: yellow Ratnasambhava, blue Akshobhya, white Vairochana, red Amitabha and green Amoghasiddhi.

Descending on the left are two unidentified Tibetan teachers, followed by orange Manjushri, in the appearance of Arapachana or Stirachakra, holding a sword upraised, red Jinasagara Avalokiteshvara with four hands and black Bernagchen Mahakala wearing a thick cloak. This form of Mahakala is the special protector for the Karmapa incarnation lineage and the Karma Kagyu Tradition in general. Beside Mahakala at the right is the wealth deity yellow Jambhala holding a bijapuraka fruit and a mongoose.

In the 2nd register, again from the left, are: the mahasiddhas Tilopa and Naropa, Dusum Khyenpa the 1st Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje the 3rd Karmapa, Karma Pakshi the 2nd Karmapa, Marpa Chokyi Lodro and Milarepa Zhepa Dorje. The prominent figure in this register is the 3rd Karmapa centrally placed and looking forward in the composition. He is also slightly larger than the other figures. Each of the other figures gazes either to the right or the left. It is because of this centrally placed larger 3rd Karmapa that an identification of the footprints can be made as well as dating the painting to the latter half of the life of Rangjung Dorje.

Descending on the right side are two unidentified Tibetan teachers, white Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara, red Vajravarahi standing in a dancing posture, and below that, a male donor figure wearing monastic robes. Beside him to the left is the black female protector deity, Shri Devi, riding a donkey.

Numbered & Greyscale:
A. Shakyamuni Buddha
B. Ratnasambhava Buddha
C. Akshobhya Buddha
D. Vairochana Buddha
E. Amitabha Buddha
F. Amoghasiddhi Buddha
1. Vajradhara
2. Tilopa
3. Naropa
4. Marpa
5. Milarepa
6a Teacher
6b Teacher (Gampopa?)
7. Dusum Kyenpa, 1st Karmapa
8. Karma Pakshi, 2nd Karmapa
9. Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa
10. Tibetan Teacher
11. Tibetan Teacher
12. Manjushri
13. Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara
14. Jinasagara Avalokiteshvara
15. Vajrayogini, Vajravarahi
16. Bernagchen Mahakala
17. Yellow Jambhala
18. Shri Devi
19. Donor Figure

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