Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - with Sixteen Elders (Arhats)

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 6)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Uncertain
Size 92.08x63.50cm (36.25x25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.3.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha (Tibetan: sha kya tu pa, sang gye. English: the Sage of the Shakya Clan, Enlightened One): surrounded by the Sixteen Arhats, with the Six Ornaments and two Excellent Ones above and the Four Guardians of the Directions at the bottom right.

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

With the peaceful gaze of meditation, having one face and two hands, blue-black hair in tufts with a gold top-knot ornament and the split ears of a prince, he wears the patched saffron red robes of a fully ordained monk. The right hand is extended across the knee in the mudra (gesture) of ?earth witness' and the left is placed in the lap in the mudra of meditation. With the two legs folded in vajra posture seated above a multi-coloured lotus, lion supported throne and elaborate ornate backrest crowned with a garuda bird and two nagas, Shakyamuni sits surrounded by a dark green nimbus and aureola. At each side stand the two principal Mahayana students of the Buddha, Shariputra and Maudgalayana, holding a khakkhara staff in the right hand and a begging bowl in the left.

Along the top are the eight Indian pandits known as the 'Six Ornaments;' Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga and Dharmakirti and the 'Two Excellent Ones:' Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha. Surrounding Shakyamuni are the Sixteen Arhats each performing their own mudras and characteristic postures. At the lower left side of the throne sits the patron Hvashang holding a small child in the upraised left hand. At the lower right side is the lay attendant to the Arhats, Dharmatala, standing, accompanied by a tiger.

At the bottom right are the Four Guardians of the Directions; Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Virudhaka and Dhritarashtra. At the bottom left is the goddess of wealth Vasudhara, yellow, with one face and two hands. A table strewn with wishing jewels, fine substances and flowers is arranged in the middle with a seated lama to the left performing an offering service accompanied by two monk attendants, one holding a parasol above the lama?s head.

"Born in the Shakya race through skillful means and compassion, destroying the army of Mara - unable to be destroyed by others, with a body radiant like a mountain of gold; to the Shakya King, I bow." (Sakya liturgical verse).

Jeff Watt 9-98

Related Items
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Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Arhat: Hvashang (Early Art)
Shakyamuni Buddha with 16 Arhats
Shakyamuni Buddha & the Sixteen Elders (Single Composition)