A gallery highlighting three unusual images of Hevajra has been added to the HAR site. These three paintings are not related to each other except for the subject of Hevajra and Nairatmya. The three paintings are each unusual because of their iconography, composition or rarity.
Entries Tagged as iconography
January 05, 2013 · No Comments
November 25, 2012 · No Comments
Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) was a Treasure Revealer of the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. (See a short biography).
'The Very Condensed Essence' Avalokiteshvara has one face and two hands, red in colour, seated in vajrasana posture. In the right hand he holds to the heart a lotus garland (mala). The left hand is in the lap and holds a nectar vase with a lotus flower above. Seated in the lap is the consort, the great mother, Sangyema, red in colour and holding the same objects as Avalokiteshvara. In the literature describing in full the appearance and surroundings of Avalokiteshvara there are a number of other deities and figures.
This form of Avalokiteshvara is commonly mistaken for the deity Amitayus Buddha.
November 04, 2012 · No Comments
Who is the God Kubera in Tantric Buddhism and why are so many deities identified as Kubera?
The sculpture on the left is not Kubera - it is Vaishravana Riding a Lion!
Kubera is a name for a God of Wealth in Indian Buddhist literature. He is also closely associated with Vaishravana, the God of the North, who inhabits the Northern slopes of Mount Sumeru in Pali and Sanskrit Mahayana literature.
Unfortunately, almost all figures identified as Kubera in Tibetan and Himalayan art are not accurately identified. The name Kubera has essentially come to be used as a category for a type of deity, a designation for all deities that have a certain appearance but have not necessarily been precisely identified. The problematic way in which the word Kubera is being used in the West actually has a more proper designation and definition in Tibetan Art. That designation is 'King Appearance' which is one of the traditional figurative forms in Tibetan art. It also has a prominent place in the modern system of the Eleven Figurative Forms.
September 22, 2012 · No Comments
White Chakrasamvara is a meditational deity belonging to the Anuttarayoga classification of Buddhist Tantra. There are also subsidiary forms and practices of White Chakrasamvara that are specifically intended for the prolongation of life span.
The white form of the deity was popularized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions by the Indian teacher Mitra Yogin and the Kashmiri teacher Shakyashri Bhadra. The Mitra Yogin form of the deity is solitary (without a consort), in a standing posture, and part of a twenty-nine deity mandala. This form of the deity can be found in all of the Sarma traditions although practiced less frequently than the Shakyashri Bhadra tradition.
The Shakyashri Bhadra form of the deity is in a standing posture and partnered with Vajrayogini, red in colour. There are no retinue or accompanying mandala figures. The Sakya, Jonang, Kagyu and Gelug traditions mainly follow this tradition of White Chakrasamvara practice. There is also a long life practice associated with this deity, however the appearance remains the same.
The tradition of Lama Umapa, a teacher of Tsongkapa, describes the deity as white with a red consort, both in a seated posture. The male holds two long-life vases in the right and left hands. The consort holds two skullcups in the right and left hands. This form of Chakrasamvara with consort functions as a long life deity, unique to the Gelug Tradition, and appears to have been developed as a Tibetan creation.
September 11, 2012 · No Comments
The long-life deity/ishtadevata, Ushnishavijaya 'Victorious Crown Ornament,' is one of three special long-life deities along with the Buddha Amitayus and White Tara. This group is known as the Three Long Life Deities (Tibetan: tse lha nam sum). There are other deities associated with long life and healing but these three are commonly referred to as the principal deities and form their own group. The three were not formulated in India but rather popularized as a Tibetan iconographic convention.
"...Ushnishavijaya, the colour of an autumn moon, with three faces, white, yellow and blue and eight hands. Each face has three very large eyes. The first right hand holds a vishvavajra, second a white lotus with Amitabha [Buddha] residing, third an arrow and the fourth in [the gesture of] supreme generosity. The first left holds a vajra lasso, second a bow, third [in the gesture of] bestowing protection and fourth in [the gesture of] meditative equipoise holding an auspicious nectar vase; complete with silks and jewel ornaments, seated in [vajra] posture. Within the outer circle of the stupa, on the right [side of the chaitya], above a moon is Avalokiteshvara with a body white in colour, the left hand holds a lotus. On the left [of the chaitya], above a sun is Vajrapani, blue, the left hand holds an utpala with a vajra; standing in a peaceful manner and adorned with silks and jewels." (Jamyang Kyentse Wangpo, 1820-1892).
May 14, 2012 · No Comments
Gods & Deities are a common feature of Tantric Buddhism. What are they exactly? Who are they and where do they come from? This is a big question in Tibetan Buddhism and subsequently it is important to understand. Deities make up a large percentage of the iconography in painting, sculpture and more importantly meditation practice. Initially the most important thing to learn is that the terms 'god' and 'deity' are used interchangeably with no real intended difference in meaning. (This page on Gods & Deities is a work in progress).
March 13, 2012 · No Comments
Ragavajra Ganapati originates in Tibet with the tradition of Jowo Atisha in the 11th century. In general, Buddhist forms of Ganapati function as wealth deities within the Tantric system. This specific form of Ganapati is clearly the most sexually explicit and possibly the most 'pornographically outrageous' in all of Tantric Buddhism. The best work is certainly the sculpture with clear distinctions between the three faces along with detail and movement in the limbs seen from the front and back. Three images of a mural have also been added from one of the smaller chapels in the Gyantse Kumbum.
March 04, 2012 · No Comments
Bhurkumkuta, Krodha Raja, a meditational deity specifically employed for the eradication of sickness and disease. The emphasis for the function of Bhukumkuta is sickness of an individual person while the emphasis for all contagious diseases in general is found with the deity Parnashavari or Medicine Buddha. Many specific illnesses can be associated with any number of other deities such as blood disorders with Hayagriva, leprosy and skin disorders caused by nagas are relieved by the meditational deity Garuda for example. Bhurkumkuta is found in the Nartang Gyatsa and Rinjung Gyatsa collections of sadhanas (practices). Both of these collections of Indian Buddhist practice were compiled in Tibet. Bhurkumkuta is more commonly found as a minor figure in painted compositions (see example).
There are four commonly known forms of the deity in the Tibetan 'New Tantras.' Three of the four are differentiiated by colour: smoky, blue-black and green. The smoky-coloured deity is associated with the Sakya Tradition and the blue-black and green associated with the Kadam Tradition of Atisha. The fourth form is the most unusual because it is female. It is very unusual for deities to have both a male and female form - this may even be the only instance found in Tibetan Buddhism.
Like the female healing deity Parnashavari, Bhurkumkuta is generally unrelated to any other popular or more common Buddhist deities such as Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara or Vajrapani. Both Bhurkumkuta and Parnashavari have their own historical identities and histories in Indian, Himalayan and Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.
March 03, 2012 · No Comments
There are two well known traditions for the standing Nila Achala. The more common of the two standing forms is the Achala of the Jowo Atisha Tradition. The second of the forms belongs to the Mitra Yogin Tradition. In the Kadam Tradition of Atisha the Achala is known as one of the 'Four Deities of Kadam' (kadam lha shi). In the Mitra Tradition there are eleven deities in total.
There are several other Tantric deities which can be easily confused with the standing form of Achala such as Krodha Vajrapani, Black Manjushri and Vignantaka. There is also a retinue protector deity named Achala that is part of the group known as the Ten Wrathful Ones.
The top of the head is often adorned with a very small figure of Akshobhya Buddha. Some texts name Vajrasattva as the figure.
Under the feet of Achala is the prostrate form of either a single figure or two figures. According to the Nartang Gyatsa text of Chim Namkha Drag (1210-1285) the single prostrate figure is Vignayakaraja with an elephant head. According to the Rinjung text of Taranata (1575-1634) there are two figures, the Elephant Trunk Ganesha and Maheshvara (Shiva).
"...Arya Achala with a body blue-black in colour, one face and two arms. The right hand holds up to the sky a wisdom sword. The left [performs] a wrathful gesture together with a lasso. [Achala] has three eyes, red and round, orange hair bristling upwards. The limbs are adorned with snake ornaments and jewels, a tiger skin as a lower garment. Within a vast swirling mass of wisdom fire [he] stands with the right leg bent and the left straight atop Vignayakaraja [the king of hindrances]. Vajrasattva adorns the head." (Drub Tab Kun Tu, vol.13, Nartang Gyatsa, pp.861-862. TBRC W19221).
January 18, 2012 · No Comments
As a sub-theme of the Five Forms of Tsongkapa, the mahasiddha form is sometimes depicted as the central figure of a composition surrounded by smaller figures of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas. So far six paintings have been identified with four of them included on the HAR website.
Two of the HAR images belong to sets likely likely including depictions of the other forms of Tsongkapa: HAR #65347, 77237. Three of the remaining paintings appear to have all been created based on a single model. Two of these are HAR #74042 and 90748. All of the individual compositions and sets of paintings identified thus far depict the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas according to the Vajrasana System.