The present book is a first attempt at exploring the sacred painting traditions of Tibet from the mid-15th through 20th centuries on the basis of both the surviving pictorial remains and the extensive written sources that survive in the Tibetan language. The study of this period of Tibetan art history has in effect been neglected in recent years in favor of the earliest periods. Yet the vast majority of extant masterpieces of Tibetan Buddhist painting belong to this more recent period, and the relevant written and pictorial resources now available, though they have never been fully utilized until now, are in fact quite rich.
The present study attempts in the first place to identify the great founders of the main schools of Tibetan painting and to locate references to their surviving works of sacred art. Through recourse to the artists' own writings, if available, to the biographies of their main patrons, and to other contemporaneous or nearly contemporaneous sources, it has been possible to clarify many of the circumstances of the careers of such famous Tibetan painters as sMan-bla-don-grub, mKhyen-brtse-chen-mo and Nam-mkha'-bkra-shis, who were the founders of the sMan-ris, mKhyen-ris and Karma sgar-bris traditions, respectively.
For the convenience of students and researchers, the book includes a survey of the main available Tibetan sources and studies, both traditional and modern, as well as a detailed summary of previous Western research on this subject. It also presents the texts and translations of the most important passages from the main traditional sources. This richly illustrated volume also includes detailed indices, and it will be an indispensable guide and reference work for anyone interested in Tibetan art.