The Prince took power in a coup four years later, 1402 in our calendar. His nephew, who perished in the fire of the imperial palace after having revived the feudal war, was scholar minded and supported by the Confucians. The new emperor erased from the annals the reign of his predecessor of whom he massacred the followers, took the name Yongle meaning Perpetual Happiness and immediately began to prepare for the transfer of the capital from Nanking to Beijing.
The ambitious Yongle could not appear as a usurper : he offered to himself a Buddhist legitimacy. He invited the Karmapa, who was one of the most important sages of Tibetan Buddhism and got his power through reincarnation.
The trip of the Karmapa from Tibet to Nanking lasted four years, during which Yongle organized the Buddhist tribute to his deceased parents and prepared lavish gifts. The stories of miracles performed by the Karmapa were propagated and contributed effectively to assure the power of Yongle, now firmly established as Hongwu's heir.
On November 26 in Hong Kong, Christie's sells a wonderful silk thangka embroidered with silk and gold threads, lot 3001. This monumental piece 3.35 x 2.13 m is in perfect condition with bright colors of great beauty.
According to the concerns of Yongle, its theme is the victory over death. The central character with a bright red head is Raktayamari, the Conqueror of Death, who embraces his wife and mercilessly tramples the blue body of Yama the Lord of Death lying on the back of a buffalo. The top and bottom of the image display some deities inviting to Buddhist devotion.
This piece includes the presentation mark of Yongle. The existence of two thangkas of same quality in a monastery in Lhasa along with the fact that the thangka for sale was in Sikkim in the 1940s reinforces the assumption that it had actually accompanied the Karmapa in his return trip.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's: