Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 39)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Gelug
Size 119.38x93.98cm (47x37in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.1.5
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 Lama Tsongkapa above and protectors below.

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

Formal in appearance, he gazes forward with partially closed eyes and the blue-black hair on the head is piled in a tuft on top with a single gold ornament adorning the crown. Between the eyebrows is a white dot and adorning the neck are three horizontal lines. The earlobes are long and pierced. With the right arm bare the hand is extended across the knee in the earth touching mudra. The left performs the mudra of meditation palm upward in the lap. Across the left shoulder is a red and orange patchwork robe imprinted with gold design. A similar lower garment is tied at the waist with a green sash. The legs are folded in vajra posture above a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus and snow lion supported throne. Rays of light emanate from the body and the head is surrounded by a dark green aureola. In front a low table is arranged with offerings of precious jewels, a black begging bowl, flower vase, water flask and an incense bowl.

"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).

At the top left is Lama Tsongkapa with the hands performing the mudra of teaching at the heart and holding two lotus flowers supporting a sword and book. He wears the yellow pandita hat and orange monastic robes, seated upon a throne drifting on a bank of white clouds. At the sides below sit the two principal students Khedrup and Gyaltsap. In the middle the wrathful protector Yama Dharmaraja stands with the consort Chamundi. With a buffalo head and the arms outstretched he rides atop a grey buffalo. In the sky below above the circle of the sun is a flying monk. At the top right side is a lama figure with a yellow pandita hat and monastic garb. The right hand is extended downward in a fierce gesture and the right holds upward a kila peg (Tib.: phur ba) decorated with a ribbon. With the right leg pendant and the left drawn up he sits on a cushion seat with a backrest. In front on a red table ritual objects are arranged. Again in the sky below above the moon is a flying monk with the arms outstretched.

At the bottom left is the wrathful protector Begtse, red, with one face and two hands holding a sword in the right and a human heart in the left, attired in the garb of a warrior and surrounded by flames. At the right is the wrathful worldly protector Damchen Garwai Nagpo, a form of Vajra Sadhu, red in colour, holding a vajra hammer in the right hand and a tiger skin bellows in the left. He wears a cane hat of Chinese design and various flowing robes. Atop a brown goat with crossed horns, above purple clouds of smoke, he is completely surrounded by orange flames.

Jeff Watt 9-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery II
Iconography: Guru (Teacher)
Tibet: Amdo, Paintings (East Tibet)
Subject: Deity Colours - Yellow (Increasing Activities)