Entries for month: December 2009
The Refuge Field, or Field of Accumulation, pages have been updated with new images and sections, updated Outline Page and more links. The Gelug section has been divided between the four types of Refuge Field paintings common to the Gelug. Padmasambhava, the Longchen Nyingtig and a Miscellaneous Subjects section have also been added. There are approximately 80 Refuge Field paintings in the HAR database at the present time.
Field of Accumulation, or Refuge Field: A Refuge Field is a particular type of Buddhist, and in recent times Bon, painting composition that arranges all of the teachers and deities of a particular tradition in one painted composition as formulated by individual religious traditions and as described in liturgical texts. The function of a Refuge Field is to be a visual composition reminding the devotee of all of the most sacred objects contained in the tradition, namely the (1) Teacher, (2) Buddha, (3) Dharma - religious texts, (4) Sangha, (5) Ishtadevata - meditational deities, and (6) Dharmapala - the Religious Protectors, including wealth deities. The Refuge Field is also the basis of a visualization and meditation practice common to Tantric Buddhism. The Tibetan word 'tsog zhing' is often mistakenly translated from Tibetan to English as 'Refuge Tree' because of confusion with the Tibetan word shing meaning 'tree' and zhing meaning 'field', region or realm. The correct translation and name for this type of painting is Field of Accumulation, or more commonly known in English as a Refuge Field.
This type of composition, seen from the examples in the HAR database, appears to be a very late phenomenon in Tibetan and Himalayan art quite possibly only becoming popular in the late 18th century. The earliest examples appear to be the Gelug paintings and then the Nyimgma Longchen Nyingtig examples of the 19th century. Examples of the Bon Refuge Field only appear in the late 19th and then the 20th century. The standard Shenlha Okar Tsog Zhing - Field of Accumulation - was designed late in life by a Bon Lama from Eastern Tibet, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859 -1933), based on personal visionary experience.
A set of four unusual paintings containing the Amoghapasha Dharani and a top register of Deities. The main area of the composition is taken up by the written text of the Amoghapasha Dharani and only the top register of each painting devoted to painted depictions of the Five Deity Amoghapasha Mandala deities. Each of the four top registers have the same five Amoghapasha deities in the center of each of the four compositions. At the far right and left of the four registers there are different deities. All but one of the deities are various forms of Avalokiteshvara. The form that is not Lokeshvara is the goddess that averts epidemics and contagion - Parnashavari.
Google tags: Himalayan Art Resources
art · iconography · Sets
December 30, 2009 · 1 Comment
More visuals for Hevajra Mandala HAR #87225. The two visual key pages have been placed alongside the main image with the identification keys for the numbers and colours located below - all on one page.
Google Tags: Himalayan Art Resources
iconography · mandalas
A new visual format Painting Sets Resource Page has been added to the recently updated Painting Sets Main Page.
As painting sets account for at least half or more of all Himalayan art it is a huge task to try and organize the different sets into catagories, then to keep track of the different versions of the same set compositions such as Shakyamuni & the Sixteen Arhats, the Margapala Lineage, Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama Nartang sets, etc. See the first draft of an index to try and catalogue just the subject names of the many painting sets.
Although the lists for each of the four sub-catagories of painting sets appears relatively short it must be remembered that there can be dozens, scores, or hundreds of copies of a single subject set of paintings, for example the Sixteen Great Arhats with over one hundred sets currently documented on the HAR site.
Google Tags: Himalayan Art Resources
art · painting · Sets
The Kalachakra Page has been updated with additional information, images and sets. Also, a list of all of the many different forms and mandala configurations for Kalachakra has been added, however they have not yet been linked to known examples and works of art. The list is drawn from a number of different literary sources and traditions, but primarily from the Sakya, Jonang and Gelug Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
Google Tags: Himalayan Art Resources
iconography · Kalachakra
A new Hevajra Resource Page has been added. Additional new pages have been created and added to the Hevajra section including a Hevajra Masterworks and a Hevajra Forms page. The many miscellaneous Hevajra pages have been brought together under the Resource Page. The main topics of the new page are mediums, mandalas, reading a mandala and forms.
Google tag: Himalayan Art Resources
art · iconography · Resource Tools
Painting Sets Index/Glossary Page. Also located at the top of the main Glossary Page.
Painting sets account for at least half or more of all Himalayan and Tibetan painted compositions making sets a unique feature of Himalayan Art. Sets can be divided between four major subject types:  Life Story,  Teaching Lineages,  Incarnation Lineages, and  Miscellaneous Subjects. This last group can be divided into three subsets: [4a] Mytho-historical Teachers, [4b] Deity Sets and [4c] Miscellaneous Subjects (medical sets, astrology, history, etc.).
 The most commonplace and famous of the sets of paintings are Shakyamuni Buddhas & the Sixteen Great Arhats, followed by the Buddha's Life-story, Previous Life-stories (jataka) and Teaching Stories (avadana). The life-story of Padmasambhava condensed into the Eight Forms, along with the Milarepa and Tsongkapa life stories are also quite common.
 The Teaching Lineage painting sets of the Sakya Lamdre (Margapala) and the Karma Kagyu Mahamudra Lineages (sertreng) are the most common.
 For the Incarnation Lineage painting sets the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Jonang Taranata are the most common.
 Miscellaneous Subjects include Shakyamuni Buddha & Sixteen Great Arhats, Six Ornaments & Two Excellent Ones, Eighty-four Mahasiddhas, Twenty-one Taras, Vajravali Deity set, Sarvadurgati Parishodhana, Four Transcendent Lords, Twelve Ritual Deities, etc.
art · Glossary · iconography · Sets
December 26, 2009 · 1 Comment
Vajrayogini Masterworks: a selection of paintings and sculpture highlighting some of the best characteristics of the subject Vajrayogini. The most common forms of Vajrayogini are what have come to be called the Naropa (Naro Khacho) form, Vajravarahi (with the pig face at the side), Krodha Kali (the black form) and Dechen Gyalmo (of the Longchen Nyingtig).
Vajravarahi comparison images: three forms of Varahi along with suggestions as to what to look for when doing a comparison.
art · iconography · Masterworks
Shastradhara (weapon holding) Hevajra is described in the Samputa Tantra - a shared explanatory Tantra of the Hevajra Root Tantra. Aside from the Samputa Tantra, the most common reference and ritual source for the Shastradhara form of Hevajra is the Vajravali text of Abhayakaragupta.
The principal Tantric practice of Marpa Chokyi Lodro (1012-1096) is said to have been the deity Hevajra and specifically the Shastradhara form. The Shastradhara form was available through other sources of lineage transmission in Tibet and the Himalayas prior to the introduction of the Vajravali text in the 13th century.
Visually there are two main differences between the Hevajra Tantra form of the deity and the Samputa Tantra form of the deity. The first difference is in the mandala configuration where the Hevajra Tantra version is called a nine deity mandala and the Samputa version is a seventeen deity mandala. In both cases the central figures of Hevajra and Nairatmya are counted as one. In the Samputa Tantra, to account for the larger mandala size, eight additional retinue figures are described: four door keepers and four intermediate direction figures. Second, the retinue goddesses in the Hevajra Tantra each have two arms while in the Samputa Tantra the goddesses have four arms each.
See the essential components of a Hevajra mandala with numbered and labeled figures and colour coded sections.
Correct body proportions are important in Himalayan art because it matters both in iconography and also in aesthetics. For a deity figure to be iconographically accurate and identifiable then the figure must follow certain basic conventions of appearance such as peaceful, semi-peaceful/semi-wrathful, and wrathful. Also for human figures there are the different appearances of siddha, kings, monastics and lay persons. This painting of Vajravarahi from Bhutan has excellent body proportions and is one of the best examples of its kind on the HAR site.
art · painting