Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vairochana Buddha - (Sambhogakaya Ornaments)

ཀུན་རིག་རྣམ་པར་སྣང་མཛད། 普明大日如来(佛教本尊)
(item no. 69402)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1100 - 1199
Lineages Buddhist
Size 100.33x73.33cm (39.50x28.87in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Catalogue # 1992.58
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vairochana, Buddha (Tibetan: nang par nang dze, sang gye): a principal buddha within Vajrayana Buddhism residing in the center or eastern quarter of the mandala, and a minor buddha within the sutra tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.

"Arising in the eastern direction is Vairochana on a lion, lotus and moon throne; with a body white in colour the hands are in the mudra of supreme enlightenment." (Dragpa Gyaltsen, 1147-1216).

Peaceful and youthful in appearance, gold in colour with one face and two hands he performs the mudra of Dharma teaching at the heart. Adorned with an elaborate crown, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and the like, he wears a skirt of various colours. With the legs folded together in vajra posture atop a multi-coloured lotus supported throne, a nimbus and aureole of light surround his head and body.

At the sides stand two bodhisattvas, white on the viewers left and yellow on the right, displaying various mudras and wearing jewels and silks; standing on lotus seats. In the upper portion of the composition are ten bodhisattva figures, all seated and all wearing similar ornaments and dress as the central Vairochana Buddha. In the lower register are likely to be five deities each with three faces and six hands; seated in the cross-legged vajra posture.

Belonging to a larger set of paintings containing the buddhas of all five families, Vairochana plays a central role in Vajrayana Buddhism as Lord of the 1st of the Five Buddha Families of the higher tantras and found throughout all 4 tantra classifications most notably the yoga and anuttarayoga classes.

Jeff Watt 6-2009

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