Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Buddha - (Vairochana-like Appearance)

སངས་རྒྱས། 佛陀
(item no. 610)
Origin Location Western Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Uncertain
Size 25.40x20.32cm (10x8in)
Material Raised Gold on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.3.6
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Summary: With the two hands in a teaching gesture.

Interpretation / Description

Vairochana, Buddha (Tibetan: nang par nang dze): a principal buddha within Vajrayana Buddhism.

With one face and two hands, white in colour, he sits in the traditional posture. The hair is piled on the crown of the head forming a topknot (Sanskrit: ushnisha). A dot adorns the forehead (Skt.: urna) and gold flowers decorate the upper tips of the ears with long pierced earlobes below. Three classical beauty lines adorn the neck. The two hands are held to the heart performing the Dharma teaching mudra - loosely resembling an 8-spoked wheel. The left shoulder is covered with a red and gold trimmed robe. The right arm remains bare according to monastic custom. The two legs are folded together in vajra posture with the soles of the feet facing upward - right over left, atop a white snow lion supported throne and elaborate gold backrest. A dark blue nimbus and green areola surround the body and head within a larger circle of red swirling light.

At the left stands a bodhisattva, green in colour, with the right hand placed at the heart holding the stem of a flower blossom supporting an upright sword of wisdom. The left hand extended downward performs the mudra of generosity, wearing jewel ornaments and celestial garments. At the right side a similar bodhisattva, red in colour, performs the mudra of generosity with the right hand and holds the stem of a lotus blossom with the left. At the top corners, right and left, sit monastic figures performing the teaching mudra at the heart and holding the stem of a lotus flower blossoming over the shoulder. They both sit on pink lotus seats surrounded by light.

Vairochana plays a central role in Vajrayana Buddhism, represented in Carya classification by the important Vairochana Abhisambodhi Tantra in 26 chapters and in the Yoga classification by the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra. He is the Lord of the 1st of the Five Buddha Families of anuttarayoga and found throughout all the various tantras.

Jeff Watt 9-99

Secondary Images
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Subject: Strings of Miniature Paintings (Banners)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Painting Style: Western Tibetan
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