Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 445)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya
Size 52.07x41.91cm (20.50x16.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.1.9
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: sang gye sha kya tu pa. English: the Sage of the Shakya Clan) surrounded by various Lamas, Bodhisattvas and Deities.

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

Seated in the traditional cross-legged posture, Shakyamuni has one face and two hands. The right hand is extended across the knee with the fingertipss touching the earth - in the 'earth witness mudra' (gesture). The left holds in the lap the black begging bowl - a gift from the Kings of the Four Directions. Wearing the dark saffron robes of a monk, cut in strips, he sits on a cushion of a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus above a lion supported throne emanating a blue and red nimbus and areola. The back-rest is adorned with two pink makaras (water creatures).To the left stands the arhat Shariputra and to the right Maudgalyayana holding khakkhara staffs and begging bowls.

Behind the Buddha and seated in a large green tree are three lama figures. At the top center and to the right the lamas perform the Dharma Teaching mudra holding the stems of lotuses supporting a sword and book. At the left a lama holds up a book with the right hand and rests the left in the lap. Again on the left is the goddess of power, Kurukulla, red, with one face and four hands. Again on the right is Vajravarahi, red, with two faces and two hands.

Descending from the top left is the primordial buddha blue Vajradhara, Medicine Buddha, the bodhisattva Maitreya, Shadakshari Avalokiteshvara and yellow Vajra Tara with four faces and eight hands. Descending from the top right is Vajrasattva, Budhha Akshobhya, the bodhisattva Manjushri, green Vajravidarana and Green Tara.

At the bottom middle is orange Prajnaparamita, peaceful, with one face and four hands. To the right is dark blue Achala with one face and two hands followed by Chaturbhuja Mahakala, dark blue, with one face and four hands and Mahakali, dark blue, with one face and four hands, riding a mule. At the left corner are two monks seated before a shrine, two tiered, filled with offerings.

Geometric and linear with dark red and blue colouring and a full use of space filled with figures and design indicates a South-south-western Tibetan painting style with a strong Nepali influence.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Subject: Torana, Shakyamuni Buddha (Early Animal Depictions)
Shakyamuni Buddha: Early Paintings
Painting Style: Gyantse Scroll Paintings