Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 584)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Nyingma
Size 74.93x56.87cm (29.50x22.39in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.40.3
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) surrounded by numerous buddhas and bodhisattvas.

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

Golden in colour with a peaceful gaze the hair is piled on the crown of the head in a topknot with a gold ornament on the crest. The ears are long with low hanging lobes, a dot between the eyebrows and three horizontal lines across the neck - all marks of the Buddha. The right hand is extended across the knee with the fingers outstretched in the earth touching mudra (gesture). The left hand is placed palm up in the lap performing the mudra of meditation. Attired in red and yellow patchwork robes, the right arm is bare according to monastic custom. The lower body is wrapped with an orange garment tied with a blue sash. The legs are folded in vajra posture atop a multi-coloured lotus blossom, seated above a snow lion supported throne. An orange nimbus and dark green areola surround the body and head with spheres of light. Directly in front, as an offering, a large golden bowl nestled atop a pink lotus blossom is filled with wishing jewels of various colours.

At the sides stand the two principal students. At the left is the arhat Shariputra and on the right Maudgalyayana, each holding a khakkhara staff and begging bowl. Again on the left is the bodhisattva Maitreya, yellow in colour, performing the teaching mudra holding the stems of lotus blossoms, the left supporting a water flask. At the right stands a blue bodhisattva holding a lotus blossom in the right hand and performing the mudra of generosity with the left. All of these figures are arranged on the first level of a three-storied celestial palace. In front is a walled courtyard and at the sides are smaller palaces each accommodating a single figure.

The top story is occupied by the primordial buddha Samantabhadra, black and naked, seated in meditation posture. The middle story is occupied by a buddha performing the teaching mudra with both hands at the heart. On the left is the buddha Amitayus and on the right the buddha Vajradhara.

Descending from the top left, each seated in a small palace, are Guru Rinpoche, Vajrasattva, buddha Ratnasambhava, buddha Amitabha, bodhisattva Manjushri, a buddha performing the teaching mudra, an arhat with the hands in prayer, Green Tara and a Lama wearing a red cap.

Descending from the top right are buddha Akshobhya, buddha Vairochana, buddha Medicine Guru, buddha Amoghasiddhi, Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, a bodhisattva figure yellow in colour and the tutelary deity red Vajra Varahi. Seated surrounded by orange flames is the wrathful protector Chaturbhuja Mahakala, dark blue, with one face and four hands, embracing the consort.

The courtyard is filled with 6 offering goddesses standing at the front of the throne and 4 figures seated across the foreground on lotus blossoms. At the bottom center the Direction King and wealth deity Vaishravana sits atop a large bowl of wishing jewels. He holds a victory banner in the right hand and a mongoose in the left. At the sides a male and female figure sit on cushioned thrones with various offerings in front and an attendant at the side - possibly the parents of the individual commissioning the painting. Along the bottom is an inscription written with fine gold lettering.

Jeff Watt 8-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery III