Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Amitayus Buddha - Amitayus

སངས་རྒྱས་ཚེ་དཔག་མེད། - སངས་རྒྱས་ཚེ་དཔག་མེད། 无量寿佛 - 无量寿佛 Immeasurable Life
(item no. 83485)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Alternate Names: Aparimitayurjñana

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Amitayus Buddha (Tibetan: tse pag me. English: the Enlightened One of Immeasurable Life) Lord of Limitless Life and Pristine Awareness, in the Sambhogakaya aspect (Enjoyment Body) of a Buddha.

Amitayus Tibetan: Tse pag me

At the top center is Amitabha Buddha. On the viewer's left is a lay teacher with long hair and holding an arrow and a long life vase. On the right side is a teacher wearing monastic robes and a yellow hat typical of the Gelug School of Buddhism.

In Himalayan art depictions of Amitayus, he has two appearances and two names that differentiate the two different appearances. When referred to as Amitabha he has the appearance of a typical buddha form, although red in colour, wearing the traditional robes of a monk. In his other appearance he has a different name, Amitayus (immeasurable life), and wears the clothing and jewelled ornaments of a peaceful heavenly god according to the classical Indian system of divine aesthetics. The popularity of Amitayus/Amitabha is based in the Mahayana Sutra literature of which there are several texts devoted to him.

"Bhagavan Lord of Limitless Life and Pristine Awareness with a body red in colour, one face, two hands and with two long eyes glancing with compassion on beings, gazing on the entirety of migrators, a smiling face, wearing the complete sambhogakaya vestments. Above the two hands held in meditation is a long-life vase filled with the nectar of immortality, with the hair in tufts, adorned with silks and jewels, seated in vajra posture, the body blazing with the shining light of the [32] marks and [80] examples." (Sakya Tridzin Kunga Tashi, 1656-1711).

Amitayus sits atop a white moon disc, multi-coloured lotus and a square throne adorned with two blue peacocks. Directly in front of the throne is a large begging bowl, a white conch shell and many precious substances and wish-fulfilling jewels.

Amitabha is the Buddha of Immeasurable Light while Amitayus is the Buddha of Immeasurable life. In this function related to immeasurable life, Amitayus is considered to be beneficial for extending the life span of the practitioners and devotees. His red colour is not related to this function but rather the typical colour associated with Amitabha and Amitayus.

In the Mahayana Tradition of Buddhism a buddha is described as having three bodies: a form body (nirmanakaya), an apparitional body (sambhogakaya) and an ultimate truth body (dharmakaya). Although Amitabha and Amitayus are the same entity, the difference in appearance can also be explained as the first, Amitabha, is the form body and the second, Amitayus, the apparitional body. The ultimate truth body is said to be without description.

Jeff Watt 12-2015

Buddha Form | Female Form | Wrathful Form

Secondary Images
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Buddhist Deity: Amitayus Buddha (Aparimitāyurjñāna, 无量寿佛, སངས་རྒྱས་ཚེ་དཔག་མེད།)
Exhibition: Buddha Form (DM)
Collection of Dhargye Museum
Collection of Dhargye Museum (Painting Gallery 2)