(Third Dalai Lama)
16 th-17 th centuries
The sculpture of the Third Dalai Lama, one of the
prominent historical figures of Medieval Tibet, is a
rare example of portrait sculpture in Tibetan art.
Soon after his birth Sonam Gyatso was announced
as an incarnation of the abbot (died in 1542) of the
monastery of Braibun, the largest monastery in
Tibet. Gradually he became an outstanding
religious figure in Tibet. The title ‘Dalai Lama',
probably associated with his name ‘sea of virtue'
(‘gyatso', Tib., and ‘Dalai', Mong., both mean
‘sea'), was granted to him by Mongol Prince
Altan-Khan, who was impressed by Sonam
Gyatso's sermons and announced himself and his
subjects as followers of the Buddhism. Later, all
the subsequent and two previous incarnations
were called Dalai Lamas, thus Sonam Gyatso is
regarded as the third Dalai Lama.