Milarepa is held in the highest esteem by all Tibetans as the archetypal yogi. His heroic quest for knowledge is legendary. In his youth, he mastered the art of black magic, which he used to revenge the malfeasance of his uncle. However, he became disillusioned with destructive behaviour and sought the dharma. His search led him to the charismatic Marpa, who accepted him as a student but withheld the desired teachings. In order to purify his student, Marpa subjected Milarepa to hardships and trials to test his resolve. For his persistence, Milarepa was finally granted the teachings he so desperately sought. He had suffered greatly during his apprenticeship, yet once enlightened, he achieved a sublime perception. He is renowned for his ecstatic verse and in this image, his parted lips suggest the singing of songs for which he is famed throughout Tibet. His left hand is held up towards his ear, often interpreted as the gesture of listening to the songs of nature or the teachings of the masters. His half-closed eyes suggest a state of reverie. He wears large hoop earrings and a meditation strap over his right shoulder passing beneath his cloak. He is seated on an antelope skin draped over the base of the statue.