Scroll-painting in Tibetan style, thang-ka, commissioned by the British Museum, and painted by Sonam Tsering. It shows the story of the stupa at Gorsam, in the Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh, in northeastern India. The central painted surface is mounted, in traditional fashion, within two bands of differently-coloured brocade (although of broadly Chinese design, this was probably made in Varanasi). There is a veil and the usual streamers which are used to gather up the veil when the painting is displayed. There are two wooden rollers (top and bottom) each of which is mounted – at both ends – with brass terminals. This photograph shows the protective covering. The central area of the painting shows, in the middle, the stupa at Gorsam with around it in 12 cartouches, the history of this structure. The twelve panels (starting at bottom left, at eight o’clock) are as follows – 1 – Lama Pradhar, the founder of the stupa, visits Bodhnath in the Kathmandu valley and sees the great stupa; 2 – he is so impressed with it that he undertakes to construct a similar sacred building in his own home valley of the Nyamjang-chu. He makes a model of the stupa carved in a giant radish; 3 – he returns home and considers how and where to build the stupa; 4 – he wakes one morning and sees a magnificent rainbow. He determines to build the stupa where the rainbow touches the ground; 5 – he goes to the elders of the villages around Zemithang, the so-called Pangchen villages and asks them to help him to build the stupa. They agree; 6 – miraculously, when workers go to the quarry they find stone already cut and ready for transport; 7 – however, the stupa takes so long to build that women who were carrying unborn children when the construction began, find those same offspring working on it when they have grown up; 8 – eventually the stupa is completed and relics are sent from the Potala for placing inside the relic-chamber; 9 – the relics are periodically displayed when the upper chamber of the stupa is opened; 10 – on his way into exile the Dalai Lama passes the stupa at Gorsam on his very first day in India; 11 – there is a flood that damages the stupa; 12 – the stupa is repaired and the river banks strengthened under the supervision of the present Tsona Gontse Rimpoche.
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