Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Stupa (Buddhist Reliquary) - Metal

མཆོད་རྟེན། 佛塔
(item no. 53402)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Buddhist
Material Metal
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Object/Concept

Interpretation / Description

Stupa (Tibetan: cho ten): from a set of eight different stupa depictions representing eight important events in the life of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. (See the Stupa Main Page, Outline Page and the Eight Stupas Page).

Sanskrit: Chaitya Tibetan: Chorten

Arising historically from the chaitya (funerary mounds) of early Buddhism and symbolically from the tope (ushnisha), bundle of hair, on the crown of the Buddha's head, the stupa is viewed as a physical representation of the unseen enlightened mind of a Buddha. Later the stupa became a symbol incorporating both the blueprint for the path to enlightenment and enlightenment itself.

The base is a square platform in the shape of a lion supported throne, with a white snow lion on each side panel. The Direction King of the East, Dhritarashtra, holding a lute, is displayed on the central panel. Atop four graduated steps is a large dome and compartment; the entrance wreathed with gold emblazoned with turquoise and jewels (wishing jewels). Inside - the space is hollow. Typically it would contain an image of Shakyamuni Buddha, with one face and two hands performing the earth witness mudra (gesture) with the right and supporting a black begging bowl in the lap with the left. Above the dome are 13 discs, one above the other, representing the 10 bodhisattva levels and the 3 stages of a complete buddha. Crowned by an ornate parasol, crescent moon and round disc of the sun - the top representing a tapering flame. At the sides descending from the parasol are streamers and banners (similar to a Maypole).

The inscription at the bottom written in Tibetan identifies which of the eight stupas is being depicted.

Jeff Watt 20-2011

Secondary Images

View other items in the Thematic Set: Collection of WGA