Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Amitabha Buddha - Pureland (Sukhavati)

སངས་རྒྱས་འོད་དཔག་མེད། 无量寿佛
(item no. 83407)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Amitabha Buddha (Tibetan: san gye o pame. English: the Buddha of Boundless Light) located in the pureland of Sukhavati, teaching to bodhisattvas, shravakas and pratyekabuddhas seated to the right and left. This composition is in the style of Namkha Gyan an 18th/19th century artist from the Trehor region of East Tibet, in Kham province, present day Sichuan Provnce.

Amitabha Buddha in this composition has Buddha Appearance, one of the Eleven Figurative Forms in Himalayan style art. The monastic robes are of mixed colours which has become an artistic convention for Amitabha. Here we see the colour green over the proper right shoulder while the left has the traditional orange and yellow patch-work robes of a monk.

In the perfect posture of meditation, red in colour with one face and two hands, blue-black hair in tufts with a red top-knot ornament and the split ears of a prince, he wears the patched robes of a fully ordained monk. The two hands are placed in the lap in the gesture (mudra) of meditation and hold a blue-black begging bowl filled with nectar (depicted as white and blue waves). With the two legs folded in vajra posture, right over left, seated above a pink lotus and throne, he is surrounded by rays of golden light under a canopy mounted in a wish-fulfilling tree, adorned with hanging jewels. At the sides are standing and seated Buddhas in white billowing clouds.

At the front of the throne is a seated Padmasambhava and what appear to be the Eight Great Bodhisattvas. At the left is a standing Avalokiteshvara. On the right is a standing Vajrapani. Again at the sides are numerous arhats, pratyekabuddhas and heavenly beings; seated in beautiful landscaped surroundings and rolling green hills.

Amitabha Buddha resides in the western direction in the pureland called Sukhavati (Tib.: dewa chen. Eng.: Land of Great Bliss). A full description of his iconography and environment are found in the Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra.

Jeff Watt 3-2016

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