Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - with Sixteen Elders (Arhats)

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 1052)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# c2003.50.7
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: sha kya thu pa. English: Sage of the Shakya Clan, the Enlightened One): surrounded by the Sixteen Great Arhats, Two Attendants and the Four Guardians of the Directions. (See Shakyamuni Buddha & the Sixteen Arhats in a Single Composition Main Page).

Sanskrit: Buddha Shakyamuni Tibetan: Sang gye sha kya tu pa

At the center is Shakyamuni Buddha with two bodhisattva figures standing at the right and left sides. It is very unusual to have the combination of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Great Arhats yet not to have the two principal and most important of the historical students - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana.

Directly above the central figure are Amitabha and Medicine Guru Buddhas accompanied by the figures of Nagarjuna, Asanga, Atisha and Dromton. Below that on the right and left are three unidentified monastic figures adding to a total of six figures - three per side.

At the top and sides of the composition are the Sixteen Great Arhats along with the two attendant figures of Hvashang and Dharmatala.

Below the lotus seat and decorating the throne are Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara at the center, with White Tara on the left and Green Tara on the right. They are separated by two white lions. Again, below that are two teachers wearing monastic robes and yellow hats. At the far left and right are dark green Vajravidarana in a seated posture and on the right is Black Jambhala in a standing posture.

At the bottom center is Shadbhuja Mahakala with one face and six hands. He is accompanied by five attendant deities: Shri Devi, Yaksha Kshetrapala, Jinamitra, Takkiraja and Trakshe. To the left is Krodha Vajrapani and on the right is Yama Dharmaraja standing on a buffalo. At the bottom left and right are the Four Guardian Kings of the Directions: Dhritarashtra, Virupaksha, Virudhaka and Vaishravana.

Jeff Watt 5-2012

Numbered Image - Yellow Numbers:
1. Shakyamuni Buddha
2. Bodhisattva
3. Bodhisattva
4. Amitabha Buddha
5. Medicine Buddha
6. Nagarjuna
7. Asanga
8. Atisha
9. Dromton
10. Tibetan Teacher
11. Tibetan Teacher
12. Tibetan Teacher
13. Tibetan Teacher
14. Tibetan Teacher
15. Tibetan Teacher
16. Avalokiteshvara, Chaturbhuja
17. Tara, White
18. Tara, Green
19. Tibetan Teacher
20. Tibetan Teacher
21. Vajravidarana, Green
22. Jambhala, Black
23. Mahakala, Shadbhuja with Five Retinue Figures
24. Vajrapani, Krodha
25. Yama Dharmaraja
26. Dhritarashtra
27. Virupaksha
28. Virudhaka
29. Vaishravana

Blue Numbers - Sixteen Great Arhats:
1. Arhat
2. Arhat
3. Arhat
4. Arhat
5. Arhat
6. Arhat
7. Arhat
8. Arhat
9. Arhat
10. Arhat
11. Arhat
12. Arhat
13. Arhat
14. Arhat
15. Arhat
16. Arhat
17. Hvashang
18. Dharmatala

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art (RMA): Main Page
Shakyamuni Buddha with 16 Arhats
Tradition: Gelug Protectors (Composition Examples)
Arhat: Hvashang (Early Art)
Shakyamuni Buddha & the Sixteen Elders (Single Composition)
Shakyamuni Buddha: Various Iconographic Subjects