Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Amitabha Buddha - Pureland (Sukhavati)

སངས་རྒྱས་འོད་དཔག་མེད། 无量寿佛
(item no. 85)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.6.3
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) is located in the pureland of Sukhavati teaching to the eight great bodhisattvas, shravakas and pratyekabuddhas seated in front.

Seated 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 saffron robes of a fully ordained monk. The two hands are placed in the lap in the mudra (gesture) of meditation and hold a black begging bowl filled with nectar. With the two legs folded in vajra posture seated above a pink lotus and peacock supported throne, he is surrounded by a dark blue and orange nimbus and green areola 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.

Along both sides of the throne stand three offering goddesses, white in colour, proffering bowls of wishing jewels and holding auspicious banners. At the front surrounding a table of offerings and a central bathing pond are seated the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, 'the heart sons of the Buddha,' each with their own colour performing the Dharma Teaching mudra while holding the stems of two lotus blossoms. At the left is Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya, Kshitagarbha and Samantabhadra. At the right is Vajrapani, Manjushri, Akashagarbha and Sarvanivarana-vishkambhin. At the front are numerous arhats, pratyekabuddhas and heavenly beings each holding a wishing jewel in folded hands at the heart; seated in beautiful landscaped surroundings filled with bathing ponds and rolling green hills.

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

Jeff Watt 9-98

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