Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Ratnasambhava Buddha - (Sarvadurgati Tantra)

སངས་རྒྱས་རིན་ཆེན་འབྱུང་གནས། 宝生佛
(item no. 178)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Uncertain
Size 54.61x43.18cm (21.50x17in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.11.5
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Ratnasambhava, Buddha (Tibetan: rin chen jung den, sang gye): a principal buddha within Vajrayana Buddhism representing the qualities of enlightenment and residing in the southern quarter of a mandala.

"Arising in the southern direction is Ratnasambhava on a horse, lotus and sun throne; with a body yellow in colour the right hand is placed in the mudra of supreme generosity." (Trakpa Gyaltsen, 1147-1216).

Yellow in colour, peaceful in appearance, with one face and two hands, the right is extended across the knee with the palm facing outward in the mudra (gesture) of supreme generosity. The left hand placed in the lap with the palm upward performs the mudra of meditation. Adorned with a crown of gold and jewels, orange and green ribbons flutter at the sides, flowers adorn the tops of the ears and decorative rings hang from the lobes. Decorated with gold necklaces, bracelets and anklets, the left shoulder is covered with a pink scarf and worn below is a skirt of various colours. With the legs folded in vajra posture he is seated above a multi-coloured lotus and horse supported throne, surrounded by a blue nimbus and pink areola. The backrest of the throne is decorated with two pink elephants, blue horses, makaras (mythical sea creatures) and a Garuda bird perched at the top.

Alongside the throne stand two bodhisattvas, yellow on the left and pink on the right, displaying various mudras and wearing jewels and silks. Above each are 3 seated bodhisattva figures. Along the front of the throne between the two blue horses are 3 of the 4 female Door Guardians. At the bottom left side is the Direction Guardian of the south, Yama, blue in colour, riding a brown buffalo. Seated alongside is the Guardian King of the South, Virudhaka, blue, holding a long sword with both hands, wearing a gold helmet and the garments of a warrior. At the bottom right is the Direction Guardian of the southwest, Rakshasa, blue, riding on the back of a pink zombie.

Completely surrounding all of that are 200 Shakyamuni Buddha figures. Golden in colour, aligned in rows, each has one face and two hands, performing the earth touching mudra with the right and meditation with the left, wearing red robes and seated in vajra posture surrounded by circles of light.

This painting of Ratnasambhava is from a larger set which would contain the buddhas of all five families; Vairochana, Akshobhya, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi. (See painting #270 for an almost identical composition and structure). Occupying a central role in Vajrayana Buddhism, Ratnasambhava - Lord of the 4th of the Five Buddha Families of tantra is found throughout all 4 tantra sets, most notably in the Anuttarayoga class.

Jeff Watt 9-99

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