Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 309)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug
Size 66.68x44.45cm (26.25x17.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line, Red Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.19.13
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: san gye sha kya tu pa) surrounded by Lamas of the Gelugpa School.

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

In the traditional appearance of a buddha, Shakyamuni is gold coloured with the blue-black hair in small tufts and a large crown protuberance adorned with a gold ornament. The right hand is extended across the knee with the fingertips touching the earth - in the earth witness mudra (gesture). The left hand is placed in the lap in the mudra of meditation. Wearing the robes of a monk he sits in vajra posture on a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus above an ornate lion supported throne emanating a blue and green nimbus and aureola encircled by a band of ornate gold studded with wishing jewels.

At the top center is the primordial buddha Vajradhara with the hands folded across the heart holding a vajra and bell; seated in vajra posture above a pink lotus. At the left is a teacher of Tsongkapa, Umapa Tsondru Sengge. Wearing monastic robes and an orange hat he performs the mudra of blessing with the right hand and holds a vase in the lap with the left; seated in vajra posture. At the right is the founder of the Gelulpa School Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419) performing the mudra of Dharma Teaching while holding the stems of two lotus flowers with the blossoms supporting a sword and book; in vajra posture. At the mid-left is the youthful bodhisattva Maitreya, wearing jewels and silks, performing the Dharma Teaching mudra along with two lotus blossoms supporting a Dharma Wheel and vase; seated in a western style with the legs pendant. At the right is the bodhisattva Manjushri, with jewels and silks, performing the Dharma Teaching mudra, the two lotus blossoms support a sword and book; seated in a western style on an ornate throne.

At the bottom center is the root guru Puntsog Gyatso (17th century, [TBRC P3435] brag sgo rab 'byams pa phun tshogs rgya mtsho) performing the gesture of giving fearlessness with the right hand and holding a black begging bowl in the lap with the left. Wearing the attire of a monk he sits on the special monk's mat atop ornate brocade cushions. Puntsog Gyatso was a teacher to both the 2nd Panchen Lama and the 7th Dalai Lama.

To the left is Panchen Gongma, performing the Dharma Teaching mudra, wearing monks robes and a hat. To the right is the 7th Dalai Lama, Lobzang Kalsang Gyatso (1708-1757), with the right hand in the mudra of blessing and the left holding a vase in the lap, wearing monastic robes and a hat.

The painting style is called 'tsal thang.' On a red (vermilion) background the painting is executed with fine gold line and coloured pigments added for various detailing such as the face, mouth, eyes and hair. The name of each lama is written in fine gold lettering beneath each seat on a blue background.

Jeff Watt 9-98

Front of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: dbu ma pa brtson 'gru sing ge la na mo. rgyal ba btsong kha pa chen po la na mo. rje btsun mi pham mgon la na mo. rje btsun 'jam dpal dbyangs la na mo. pan chen sku gong ma la na mo. rtsa ba'i bla ma phun tsogs rgya mtso la na mo. blo bzang bskal bzang rgyal mtsho la na mo.

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page
Shakyamuni Buddha: Art History
Painting Type: Red Background
Shakyamuni Buddha, 释迦牟尼佛:, ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། Painting (Masterworks)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 5
Painting Type: Red Ground Masterworks
Subject: Teachers, Religious Topics
Collection of RMA: Red & Gold Ground Masterworks