Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 24078)
Origin Location China
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: sha kya tu pa, sang gye. English: the Enlightened One, Sage of the Shakya Clan) together with the two principal students Shariputra and Maudgalyayana.

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

Gazing forward with a contented smile, the blue-black hair is piled on the crown of the head topped with a gold-like ornament. The earlobes are long and pierced - a sign of royal upbringing. A dot representing a curled hair adorns the forehead between the eyebrows and the neck is marked with three horizontal lines. The right arm is extended across the knee with the fingertips of the hand almost touching the ground in the mudra (gesture) of Earth Witness - calling the personified 'Goddess of the Earth' to confirm the moment of the Buddha's enlightenment. The left hand held in the lap in the mudra of meditation supports a black begging bowl - a gift of the Kings of the Four Directions. The two legs are folded with the right over left in the posture of vajrasana - representing stability. Without adornments and in the appearance of a monk (Tib.: ge long, Sanskrit: bhikshu) he wears the orange and red saffron coloured robes assembled from strips of unwanted and discarded cloth, dyed to a uniform colour with freely obtained pigments. The lower robe is a brownish colour and tied with an yellow sash. Above a multi-coloured lotus blossom, he is seated surrounded by a blue nimbus adorned with wish-fulfilling jewels.

Standing at the left side is Shariputra holding a a black begging bowl with the left hand and a khakkhara staff in the right. On the right side is Maudgalyayana holding a khakkhara staff in the right hand and a black begging bowl in the left, wearing orange robes. At the bottom front a red table with a blue top supports an array of offerings.

"Born in the Shakya race through skillful means and compassion; destroying the army of Mara who was unable to be destroyed by others; with a body radiant like a mountain of gold. Homage to you, King of Shakya." (Sakya liturgical verse).

The outside portion of the composition is painted in imitation of Chinese silk brocade. This was often done when brocades were too expensive to purchase by the ordinary public.

Jeff Watt 2-2016

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Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page