Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vasudhara (Buddhist Deity)

ནོར་རྒྱུན་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 财源天母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 258)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Sakya
Size 71.12x52.71cm (28x20.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.12.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Vasudhara and Hvashang (Tibetan: nor gyun ma dang hwa shang); the goddess of wealth alongside the patron to the 16 arhats.

Vasudhara: Peaceful in appearance, yellow in colour, she has one face with long black hair piled in a mound on the crown of the head. The right arm is extended across the knee with the palm outward in the mudra of generosity holding the stem of a flower blossom supporting a gold vase filled with upright stalks of grain. The right hand held to the heart performs the mudra of blessing. Adorned with a jewelled tiara, gold earrings and pink ribbons, a choker, necklace, bracelets and anklets, she wears a red and blue scarf across the shoulders and a blue lower garment tied with a green sash. With the right leg pendant and the left drawn up she sits in a relaxed posture atop a moon disc, surrounded by a dark blue nimbus and green areola.

"Bhagavani, source of all wonders, Vasudhara, goddess of splendour and fortune, bestower of auspicious mental desires; homage to the Goddess Wish-fulfilling Wheel." (Sakya liturgical verse).

Hvashang: Elderly in appearance, bald and portly, he is dark brown in colour. The right hand holds upraised a persimmon fruit and the left resting across the knee works a prayer bead mala. Attired in a long blue scarf and a lower garment of red, he sits with the right leg drawn up and the left extended. A pink areola surrounds the head. At the side, two small children play as one urinates towards the patron.

At the bottom left, a lama with a large entourage, all wearing orange and red monastic robes, some with red pandita hats, sit before a large display of offerings made up of precious jewels, gold, colourful bolts of cloth and various types of vases filled with oils, perfumes and the like. The background is mountainous and a large twisting tree fills the sky with branches laden with fruit.

Hvashang, meaning a 'Chinese monk,' was allegedly an historic figure dispatched to India by a Tang Emperor to invite the buddha Shakyamuni to visit China. Since the Buddha had already passed away the invitation was then relayed to the 16 great arhats. Regarded as a monk he is also referred to as a patron because he carried the invitation. Neither of the common liturgies to the meditation practice of Shakyamuni Buddha and the 16 Arhats, popularized by the Lord Atisha and Kashmiri pandita Shakya Shribhadra, make reference to Hvashang. Therefore it is most probable that he is a late iconographic concept imported from China.

Jeff Watt 9-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Deities (Female)
Subject: Wealth Deities Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Vasudhara Main Page