Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 363)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Nyingma
Size 58.42x45.72cm (23x18in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.20.11
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: sha kya tu pa. English: the Sage of the Shakyas): surrounded by various buddhas, deities and lamas.

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

Golden yellow in colour he has one face and two hands, a gold ornament at the crown of the head, long split ears, an upper robe covering the right shoulder with the length of the arm remaining bare. The legs are folded with the two feet resting on the opposite thighs in vajra posture. He wears upper and lower robes of patched strips of discarded cloth, orange and red in colour. The right hand is extended across the knee in the mudra (gesture) calling the Earth to witness his moment of enlightenment. The left hand is held in the lap in the restful mudra of meditation. Perfectly upright and well composed, surrounded by a nimbus and areola of ornate patterns, he sits above a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus atop a lion supported tiered throne.

At the left side (facing) of the throne stands Shariputra holding a monk's staff and a black begging bowl, attired in patch-work robes. At the right side stands Maudgalayana in the same appearance. These two were the chief ordained students of the Mahayana Sangha. At the upper right and left are two seated lamas wearing monastic robes and performing the mudra of Dharma Teaching. Arranged on a red table in front of the throne is a bowl of various wishing jewels, a lotus vase on the left and a vase of red coral on the right.

Along the top, from the left, is Guru Rinpoche holding a vajra and skullcup, followed by a buddha performing the Dharma Teaching mudra, then the primordial buddha Vajradhara, the buddha Amitabha, a buddha performing the Dharma Teaching mudra and Avalokiteshvara Sadaksari with four hands.

On the left side below Guru Rinpoche, in a vertical row, is the Indian mahasiddha Virupa performing the mudra of Dharma Teaching, followed by Manjushri Namasangiti with four hands, then a standing red Avalokiteshvara with two hands, Avalokiteshavara Simhanda, Green Tara and White Tara.

On the right side below Avalokiteshvara is a lama wearing monastic robes and performing the Dharma Teaching mudra. Below that is the wrathful bodhisattva Vajrapani, the deity of wisdom White Achala, the buddha of purification Vajrasattva, green Vajravidarana, Ushnishavijaya and the protector Chaturbhuja Mahakala with the deity of wealth yellow Jambhala to the left.

At the bottom left side is the lay patron of the painting, with family, seated on a long cushion. The front figure is offering a wishing jewel. The woman at the back is holding a small baby.

The dark colours, geometric regimentation and full use of space with figures and ornate floral design indicate a strong Nepali influence commonly seen in paintings from Southern and Western Tibet.

Jeff Watt 9-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Padmasambhava: Early Images (Primary & Secondary)