Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrapani (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - Bhutadamara

ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ། 金刚手菩萨
(item no. 64)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Buddhist
Size 69.22x46.36cm (27.25x18.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.17.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vajrapani Bhutadamara (Tibetan: chung bu dul she chag na dor je. English: the Vajra Holder, Subduer of Daemons). (See the Bhutadamara Main Page and the Bhutadamara Forms Outline Page).

Sanskrit: Vajrapani Tibetan: chag na dor je

Dark blue in colour with one face and four hands, the first pair perform the 'Daemon Subduing' mudra (hand gesture) at the heart. The second pair of hands hold a vajra upraised in the right and a lasso in the left. Very wrathful in appearance with large bulging eyes and hair flowing upwards like flame he wears jewel and snake ornaments and a lower garment of tiger skin. On the back of the white daemon Aparajita - with four hands and an elephant head, he stands atop a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

At the top center is the buddha Shakyamuni, to the left the buddha of the past and to the right the bodhisattva Maitreya, the buddha of the future. To the left is the bodhisattva Manjushri and below is the Lama Tsongkapa the founder of the Gelugpa School. To the right is the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara with four hands. Below that is Sakya Pandita of the Sakya School.

At the bottom center inside a rainbow sphere is Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, founder of the Nyingma School, seated on a lotus flower. On the left is Karmapa Yeshe Dorje (1676-1702) of the Kamtsang Kagyu wearing a black hat and on the right Drigung Jigten Gonpo (17th century) of the Drigung Kagyu. At the left corner is the wealth deity Jambhala, yellow in colour, with one face and two hands holding a bijapuraka fruit and a mongoose.

In the right bottom corner is the deceased male individual for whom the painting was commissioned. The small figure, wearing white for purity is shown seated on a lotus indicating the wish of his relatives that he be reborn in a Buddhist pureland such as the Copper-coloured Mountain of Padmasambhava, or Sukhavati of Buddha Amitabha. The central figure, Vajrapani, was either the Tutelary Deity of the deceased or chosen as the subject on the advice of a lama for the purpose of removing obstacles in the path of a better rebirth. The gold paint used for the robes and ornaments is meant as an offering on behalf of the deceased.

Vajrapani Bhutadamara is found in the Kriya, Carya and Anuttarayoga tantras and the iconographic form represented here indicates that it belongs to the two lower tantras. All the names of the deities and lamas have been finely written with gold lettering.

Jeff Watt 5-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara (Masterworks)
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Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara (Text Catalogue)
Subject: Iconographic Bodhisattva
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara
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Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara Iconography