Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Refuge Field, Sakya (Field of Accumulation) Page

Sakya Refuge Field | Refuge Field (Religious Traditions) | Sakya Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Sakya Refuge Field Explanation (below)
- Teacher (center)
- Vajradhara (center)
- Buddha (center)
- Deity (center)
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

There are very few Sakya Refuge Field paintings in any collection anywhere in the world, the east or west. And, of the five images of paintings and prints represented below all are from the 20th century.

Each of these images, in one way or another, is depicted on a tree, four of the images are depicted on a five branch tree (four branches and the trunk) and one is depicted (HAR #66295) in the Panchen Lama style on the peak of the tree. Also, only one of the images below (HAR #57025) conforms to the modern orthodox description by Dezhung Rinpoche where the lineage is placed in a circle, on a horizontal plain, surrounding the central form of Vajradhara.

The oldest painting shown here is (HAR #57025) was likely created in the early to mid 20th century. The White Tara Refuge Field is also 20th century and printed at the the Dege Parkang in Kham, Tibet. The other images are new and from the last 30 years. From the visual, artistic and textual records it appears that in the Sakya Tradition the idea of the creation of a generic Field of Accumulation in painting and visual depictions is a new 19th or 20th century concept, possibly following the trend of other religious traditions, such as the Gelug, Karma Kagyu and the Nyingma Longchen Nyingtig Tradition.

"... a ground entirely of sapphire (vaidurya) gems, shaded blue with bright golden patterns; (in the centre of this is) a lake of nectar beautified by trees and flowers, and emanation birds singing sweet sounds of the Holy Dharma; (above the lake is) a rainbow tent endowed with pleasant odours, a rainfall of various heavenly flowers, wholly complete with all the adornments of a Pure Realm; in its centre is an excellent wish-fulfilling tree, arising from the self-seen Transcendental knowledge, which is adorned with leaves, flowers and fruits. Just by remembering it, one's wishes are rained; upon this is a various coloured four-petalled lotus in the centre of which is a jewelled lion throne, lotus, sun and moon placed upon each other and upon this is one's Root Guru, the combination of all the Buddhas, indistinguishable from Vajradhara, the Master of all the Races, whose body is blue in colour with one face and two hands which hold a vajra and bell crossed at his heart; he is adorned with jewel and bone ornaments and wears various coloured silk garments; his dark blue hair is piled upon his head and the rest hangs beautifully; his two feet are in the vajra-posture, thus (he appears) in the Sambhogakaya form. He is very happy and smiling, and faces towards oneself. Starting from the front are lineage Gurus respectively seated in a clockwise manner, all in the form of Vajradhara. Upon the front petal are the Deities of the four Tantras; upon the right (petal) are all the Buddhas in Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya forms; and upon the back (petal) are holy scriptures piled like a mountain; upon the left petal are Bodhisattvas in the householder and renounced forms, inconceivable (in number). In addition (other) Gurus, Deities, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, Shravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Viras, Dakinis, Dharma protectors, Wealth Deities, whoever is a suitable object of refuge, should be imagined as filling the sky like a cluster of clouds. On the ground in front (of this) is seated oneself, one's parents, and sentient beings of the six races in the form of human beings; ...."

[From the text called The Excellent Path of the Two Accumulations by Dezhung Tulku Kunga Tenpa'i Nyima (1906-1987). Translated by Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Tegchen along with Ngawang Samten Chopel, India, March, 1979]

Jeff Watt 5-2003 [updated 6-2017]