Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Manjushri (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - Namasangiti

འཇམ་དཔལ་དབྱངས། 文殊师利菩萨
(item no. 62)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Nyingma, Kagyu and Drukpa (Kagyu)
Size 88.90x61.59cm (35x24.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Raised Gold on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.8.6
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

TBRC: P22084

Interpretation / Description

Namasangiti, Manjushri (Tibetan: jam pal tsan ju) from the Tantra of the same name.

Manjushri, white in colour (painted with gold) has one face and four hands holding aloft a sword of wisdom in the first right hand and the stem of a lotus to the heart with the first left, the blossom at the left ear supporting the Prajnaparamita Sutra. The lower right and left hold an arrow and bow. Adorned with a crown, jewel and gold ornaments and ornately designed silks of various colours, he is seated in vajra posture above a moon disc, multi-coloured lotus and lion supported tiered throne. On both sides white elephants play. The headboard above an elaborate backrest is supported on each side by two heavenly figures with wings and the top is adorned with two makaras (stylized sea creatures).

Filling all of the surrounding space are 100 figures of Manjushri each with one face and two hands. These figures display the three most common postures of Manjushri. 1) Manjushri holds aloft a sword of wisdom with the right hand and in the left the stem of a lotus to the heart blossoming at the left ear supporting the Prajnaparamita Sutra. 2) Manjushri performs with the two hands at the heart the Dharma Teaching mudra (gesture) while holding the stems of two lotus blossoms supporting the sword and Prajnaparamita Sutra. 3) With the right hand in the mudra of generosity extended across the knee Manjushri holds the stem of a lotus to the heart with the left. The blossom supports both the sword and Prajnaparamita Sutra. This last form is typically white in colour and the former two can be yellow, orange, red, gold or white. The manner of sitting, ornaments and seats are similar to the central figure.

At the bottom left is a lama seated on a throne wearing red monastic robes and hat accepting white scarves from a lama and a lay woman wearing an apron. Seated to the right is the wealth deity yellow Jambhala with one face and two hands holding a bijapuraka fruit in the right and a mongoose in the left. Seated above the lama is the long-life buddha, Amitayus, with the hands folded in the lap holding a vase.

Near to the bottom right corner are two small figures with hands folded together at the heart, seated upon lotus blossoms and facing towards Manjushri. These two, possibly deceased children, may well be the reason for the commissioning of the artwork. The merit gained from the sponsoring and viewing of the painting is dedicated towards a beneficial rebirth for the two individuals.

The Manjushri Namasangiti Tantra was first translated into Tibetan in the 8th century and re-translated during the Sarma period in the 11th century. It is classified in some traditions as Yoga Tantra and by others as Anuttarayoga. The Tantra is memorized by lamas and monks of all traditions.

The red and blue colours, elaborate ornamentation and crowded figures suggest a Southern Tibetan style with a strong Nepali influence.

Jeff Watt 7-98

Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Wutaishan, Pilgrimage to Five Peak Mountain

Thematic Sets
Subject: Composition - Repeated Figures Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery VI
Buddhist Deity: Manjushri Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Manjushri, Namasangiti Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Manjushri, Manjuvajra Namasangiti (1 faces, 4 hands)