Ink and water-based pigment on paper Digital slideshow
NEPAL SAMBAT 555 (1435 CE)

 Courtesy of the artist

The painter Jivarama was renowned throughout the Himalayan region for his skill. His works establish a crucial link between the art histories of the Tibetan Plateau and the Kathmandu Valley. While living in Tibet, he used his thyasaphu (folding book) to take visual notes during his consultations with a presumably educated monk – identifed as Lalachunava in the provided colophon – which was a rarity in manuscripts of this age. In its 39 leaves, Jivarama sketched manifold subjects ranging from heavenly Yaksha generals to portraits of Chinese arhats and teachers of the Kagyu lineage. He also incorporates details of textile motifs, vine scrolls, and designs for royal armours and thrones.

It is remarkable that a painting attributed to Jivarama survives. Rakta Ganapati is a testament to the presence of Newa painters who visited Tibet and worked there between the 14th and 15th centuries. The infuence of artists from Kathmandu sparked a visual idiom known as Beri, characterised by elegant arches, mythical beasts with elaborate tails, and vegetative scrollwork in negative spaces. The complex and intricate detailing of Beri came to dominate Tibetan styles for nearly a century. Jivarama’s works present an exemplary confuence of Indian, Newa, Tibetan, and Chinese artistic traditions. His legacy and contributions are additionally echoed by his continued infuence on contemporary Newa artists.

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