This tree rises from a deep blue sea. On the banks at the lower right is a lama worshipping the array above and holding up an offering. A table of finely-drawn ritual objects appears before him. In the water is a miniature representation of Mount Sumeru (the ‘World Mountain’), which symbolizes the universe in Buddhist cosmology, including a palatial building on top to represent the heavenly realms. On the opposite bank, in the left corner, are the Seven Necessities of a World Ruler (known as Chakravartin): the queen, minister, general, war elephant, valiant steed, wish-fulfilling jewel, and the Great Wheel of the Dharma.
The tree hangs low with fruit, flowers, and leaves. Hovering just beneath and sitting on individual clouds in the sky are the Four Heavenly Guardian Kings of the Four Directions. At the lowest level of the tree branches are the fierce protectors favored by the Gelug Order. In the row above are the Sixteen Arhats. Each Arhat is finely portrayed as a distinct individual with an identifying attribute. Above are a large number of bodhisattvas and the Thirty-Five Buddhas of Confession. Shakyamuni, seated in bhumisparsha mudra, appears at the center of the group.
In the central position, high on the tree, sits Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), the ‘Root Mentor, the actuality of all Buddhas!’ as described in the First Panchen Lama’s poem. Tsongkhapa was the founder of the Yellow hat Gelug Order, considered a supreme authority on doctrines and texts.
He is considered a manifestation of the bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri. The stems of lotus flowers that flank him support the Book of Transcendent Wisdom, further showing his relation with Manjushri. In his heart appears the figure of Shakyamuni.
On separate clouds to the right and left are the masters of the Wisdom lineage and the Method lineage respectively. In the large central cloud above are more masters and a vertical line of seven repetitive seated images of Manjushri. Maitreya is at the upper left and Amitayus at the upper right.