Many Himalayan paintings contain narratives or stories related to the main subject of the work.
They serve as illustrations and instructional tools that bring forth inspirational stories of the Buddha’s life, biographies and pilgrimage journeys of famous Tibetan masters, legendary activities of mahasiddhas, and more. Inscriptions often accompany such paintings to clarify the tales told within. Some better-known stories do not require inscriptions as they can be readily recognized. Compositional structures of narrative paintings are complex and varied but typically center on the main figure, who is usually prominently featured. Sometimes this figure appears repeatedly throughout the painting, making it easier to read the narrative.