Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrasattva (Buddhist Deity)

རྡོ་རྗེ་སེམས་དཔའ། 金刚萨埵
(item no. 60)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 52.71x35.56cm (20.75x14in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.16.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Vajrasattva with consort (Tibetan: dor je sem pa yab yum. English: Vajra Hero, Father-Mother), the buddha of purification and a tutelary deity, essence of all the peaceful Buddha Families.

Sanskrit: Vajrasattva Tibetan: Dor je sem pa

Tathagata Vajrasattva, white in colour, with one face and two hands holds in the right an upright gold vajra to the heart and with the left, held at the hip, an upturned bell with a vajra handle. Adorned with a crown of gold and jewels, earrings and various ornaments he wears a long green scarf, gold dotted orange silks as a lower garment and sits with the back swaying slightly to the left. In the lap is the consort Vajradhatu-ishvari (Tib.: dor je ying wang chug ma, also known as dor je nye ma, Skt.: Vajra Garvi). With one face gazing upward and two hands, a colour natural in appearance, she embraces the Lord with a skullcup in the left hand and the legs entwined, naked, adorned only with gold and jewel ornaments. Both are seated on a moon disc above a red lotus blossom atop a lion supported throne. The faces are framed by a dark green areola and below - filaments of gold on a background of blue radiate from the body to form a yellow nimbus sphere.

At the top center is the primordial Dharmakaya Buddha, Samantabhadra, embraced by the dark blue consort Samantabhadri. To the left is Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava, richly attired in various robes and holding a vajra, skullcup and katvanga staff. In the corner, seated in the clouds, is the buddha Akshobhya, blue, supporting an upright vajra in the left hand. Below, a seated figure wears monastic robes and a pandita hat.

To the right side is the Tibetan princess Yeshe Tsogyal, holding a skullcup at the heart; the consort of Padmasambhava. Standing in the clouds is Vajrayogini, red, holding a curved knife and skullcup. Below, a lama, ?revealer of treasures,? with a grey beard, luxurious robes and a lotus hat, holds a treasure box in the left hand.

At the middle left is a yogi, ?togden? with the hair piled on the top of the head, earrings, wearing a white cotton robe and red meditation belt; holding a skullcup in the left hand. To the right side is the Treasure Protector (Tib.: ter srung), Ekajati (One Braid), dark brown, with one face and two hands holding a stick and heart. She wears one orange braid on the top of the head and has one eye and one tooth. At the bottom left are two yogis, standing, making offerings with bundles of fabric arranged in front.

In the foreground is a small pond and fenced enclosure with one large blossoming white lotus rising above the water cradling a small figure with the hands folded in prayer. Standing above, a lama wearing monastic robes and a pandita hat holds a vajra in the right hand and rings a vajra bell with the left.

"To the divine illusion of the clear light of pristine awareness blazing with the glorious complete marks and examples of the spontaneous three bodies of perfect buddhahood; to Vajrasattva I bow." (Nyingma liturgical text).

In the Nyingma Tradition Vajrasattva is an important tutelary deity with many Kama (Oral) and Terma (Treasure) traditions. The painting was likely commissioned for the benefit of the deceased - the small figure seated in the lotus blossom.

Jeff Watt 8-98

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Buddhist Deity: Vajrasattva with Consort
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