Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - with Sixteen Elders (Arhats)

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 19)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Uncertain
Size 69.85x53.34cm (27.50x21in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.1.2
Painting School Karma Gardri
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): along with buddha Amitabha above, surrounded by the 16 Arhats, 2 Attendants and the 4 Guardians of the Directions.

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

Dark gold in colour with one face and two hands, his hair is dark blue in colour with a topknot crowned with a gold ornament. Attired in orange robes with a green liner and sash, the right shoulder is covered leaving the length of the arm bare. The legs are folded in vajra posture with the right over left. The right hand is placed with the palm down across the knee in the mudra (gesture) calling the Earth to witness the moment of enlightenment. The left hand rests in the lap in the mudra of meditation. Surrounded by a nimbus of blue light rays forming a sphere and a greenish areola, he sits above a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus blossom atop a snow lion supported throne. Standing at the left side is the monk Shariputra and at the right Maudgalayana,, both holding a khakkhara staff in the right hand and a begging bowl in the left. Arranged on the ground in front, a golden Dharma wheel is surrounded by various offerings of precious jewels, gold, ivory, conch shells and flower vases.

At the top center is the buddha Amitabha, red in colour, performing the mudra of meditation while holding a begging bowl in the lap, wreathed with ribbons of rainbow light. Seated along each side and below are the 16 Arhats - foremost students of Shakyamuni buddha. Each carries a recognizable symbol or performs a unique mudra. All wear red and orange monastic robes with the right arm bare, seated on square mats. At the lower center below the arhats are the two attendants. At the left is Hvashang, plump, well attired in white robes with blue trim. On the right is Dharmatala, with black hair piled on the top of the head, wearing dark blue garments with white pants and green boots.

Along the bottom, youthful in appearance and seated, are the 4 Guardians of the Directions. On the left is Virupaksha, orange in colour, holding a caitya (reliquary symbol), Virudhaka, blue, holding a sword. On the right is Dhritarashtra, white, holding a lute - stringed instrument. In the corner is the leader, Vaishravana, golden, holding a victory banner and mongoose. All are adorned with peaceful ornaments and wear variously coloured silks and scarves.

Jeff Watt 3-99

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Shakyamuni Buddha with 16 Arhats
Shakyamuni Buddha & the Sixteen Elders (Single Composition)