Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Amitabha Buddha - Pureland (Sukhavati)

སངས་རྒྱས་འོད་དཔག་མེད། 无量寿佛
(item no. 83409)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Gelug 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 the eight great bodhisattvas, shravakas and pratyekabuddhas seated below 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. This composition which is relatively small follows exactly the many recorded very large compositions by Namkha Gyan. Amitabha Buddha in this composition has Buddha Appearance, one of the Eleven Figurative Forms in Himalayan style art.

In the perfect posture of meditation, gold in colour with one face and two hands, blue-black hair in tufts with a gold 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 black begging bowl filled with nectar. With the two legs folded in vajra posture, right over left, seated above a pink lotus and peacock supported throne, he is surrounded by a blue and orange nimbus and green aureole under a canopy mounted in a wish-fulfilling tree blossoming behind with various flowers and fruits, adorned with hanging jewels. At the sides, heavenly gods on white clouds shower down precious jewels, wishing gems and flower blossoms.

At the front surrounding a table of offerings and a central bathing pond are seated the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (slightly larger), each holding their own symbolic attributes. Again at the sides are numerous arhats, pratyekabuddhas and heavenly beings; seated in beautiful landscaped surroundings and rolling green hills.

At the top left are Chaturbhuja Lokeshvara, white in colour, with four arms, and orange Manjushri holding a sword upraised. On the right side of the composition is a Tibetan teacher wearing monastic robes and a yellow pandita hat. Slightly below is the wrathful form of Vajrapani, blue in colour, surrounded by orange flames.

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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