Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Direction Guardian (Buddist Deity) - Virupaksha (West)

རྒྱལ་ཆེན་རིགས་བཞི། 四大天王
(item no. 69411)
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Size 215.90x116.84cm (85x46in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Catalogue # 1990.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: King

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Virupaksha (Tibetan: chen mi zang): Guardian of the Western Direction and King of the Nagas. This painting is likely to be from a set of four paintings depicting the Four Guardian Kings intended to hang at the entrance to a small temple.

From the set of the Four Guardian Kings of the Directions the other three are Vaishravana - the leader, Virudhaka and Dhritarashtra. Traditionally painted in association with the Buddha and Sixteen Great Arhats the full group would comprise a total of twenty-five figures: the buddha Shakyamuni together with the two foremost disciples - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the Sixteen Arhats, the attendant Dharmata and the patron Hvashang, together with the Four Kings.

"Well protecting the Buddha's Teachings with heroic strength of arms; homage to the Kings of the Four Directions, North, South, East and West." (Sakya liturgical verse).

Jeff Watt 9-99 [updated 6-2009]

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Collection of Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Buddhist Worldly Protector: Virupaksha, Guardian of the West