Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 456)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Size 60.96x40.64cm (24x16in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.31.10
Painting School Karma Gardri
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: sha kya tu pa, sang gye. English: Sage of the Shakya Clan, the Enlightened One) at the time of enlightenment.

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

With the peaceful gaze of meditation, his blue-black hair in spiral tufts and having the pendulent split ears of a prince, he wears the saffron robes of a fully ordained monk. The right hand is extended across the knee to touch the ground calling the 'earth' (Mother Nature) to witness his enlightenment. The left hand is placed in the gesture of meditation resting in the lap. With the two legs folded in vajra posture the Buddha rests on a moon and multi-coloured lotus seat above a snow lion supported square throne. For the backdrop, ornately displayed, is the 'six ornament' design. On each side to the bottom left and right are elephants, supported above are snow lions, a horse and small boy with a conch shell, a makara (sea creature), a naga - with a human upper torso and snake for the bottom and at the top is a single garuda bird beneath an ornate silk canopy. Symbolically the 'six ornaments' have many meanings such as the six perfections and the like.

Arranged in front are various excellent offerings: as a gift from the god Brahma is a golden wheel of the law, from the Gods of the Four Directions is the black begging bowl; rows of precious wishing jewels and red coral, gold ingots, wish-fulfilling jewels, elephant tusks, and a rhinoceros horn, all presented on a pastoral green landscape.

At the top left is the Amitabha Buddha, red in colour, with the hands in the posture of meditation. To the right is the buddha of purification, Vajrasattva, white, holding a vajra and bell. Amidst swirling white clouds they are both seated on pink lotus blossoms.

At the bottom left is Padmasambhava one of the three principal founders of Buddhism in Tibet. Holding a vajra in the right hand and a skullcup and vase in the left, he wears a lotus hat and various coloured robes seated atop a multi-coloured lotus flower. At the right is Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, white with one face and four hands holding a jewel, crystal mala and a flower; seated above a lotus and pond.

The style of painting is Eastern Tibetan with the open green landscape and a lack of excessive ornamentation.

Jeff Watt 9-98

The Essence of Buddhism. Traleg Kyabgon. Boston & London: Shambala, 2001.

Secondary Images
Related Items
Subject: Outline Pages & Topics

Thematic Sets
Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Subject: Torana Main Page (Arch, Decorative Throne Back)