Portrait of Sonam Lhundrup
Namkha Drag, Tibetan, active in 16th century
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Sonam Lhundrup was the Great Abbot of the Kingdom of Lo, the mountainous region today called Mustang, located on the Tibetan border in central-northern Nepal. Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, Lo became fabulously wealthy thanks to the lucrative salt trade between Tibet and Nepal. The prosperity of the kingdom and its ruling family is apparent in the luxurious use of inlaid silver and copper in this portrait sculpture’s monastic robes. Sonam Lhundrup belonged to the Sakya tradition and was a lineage holder of the Lamdre teachings. He is believed to be an incarnation of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva (enlightened being) of Wisdom; his portrait sculpture indicates this dual identity through the attributes of a flaming sword and long sacred book (draped in a cloth) resting on the lotuses near his shoulders.