Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Shakyamuni

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 605)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Uncertain
Size 93.98x64.77cm (37x25.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.3.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni, Buddha (Tibetan: sha kya tu pa, sang gye. English: the Sage of the Shakya Clan, Enlightened One). Surrounding the central image starting in the top registers are small alternating figures of Shakyamuni and Amitabha Buddha. In the lower registers are repeated figures of Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara.

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

Peaceful and composed, gazing forward, with a body golden yellow in colour, he sits in vajra posture with the legs folded right over left. The hair is formed of small dark blue tufts with a large mound on the top adorned with a gold ornament; long earlobes distinctive of royal bearing. The right hand held extended across the knee touches the ground in the mudra (gesture) of Earth Witness. The left is placed in the mudra of meditation, resting in the lap. Attired in the garb of a monk, he wears orange, red and pink patchwork robes and a red lower garment. The right arm and shoulder remain uncovered. Above a moon disc and pink flower blossom rising from a lotus pond, he sits surrounded by a blue-orange nimbus and green areola of radiant light. A low table in front supports a gold water flask, Dharma wheel and incense burner.

At the top and sides, alternating in rows, are small forms of Shakyamuni and Amitabha buddha. The 36 Shakyamunis are similar in appearance to the central figure. The 34 forms of Amitabha are red with the hands placed in the mudra of meditation in the lap. Along the bottom in three rows are 32 repeating forms of the bodhisattva of compassion, Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara, white, with one face and four hands.

These types of paintings with a central peaceful figure and multiples of smaller surrounding figures are generally commissioned for the purpose of generating merit and overcoming obstacles; or commissioned on behalf of a deceased family member.

Jeff Watt 5-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Shakyamuni Buddha: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Subject: Composition - Repeated Figures Main Page