Himalayan Art Resources

Charts: Blue Beryl Main Page (Medical Paintings, All)

Blue Beryl Medical Paintings Main Page | Blue Beryl Outline | Charts Outline Page

Designed & Commissioned by Desi Sanggye Gyatso (1653-1705):

Subjects & Topics
- Blue Beryl Definition (below)
- Fifteen Registers
- Blue Beryl (Medicine Buddha Realm)
- Blue Beryl (Trees)
- The Five Beryl (Vaidurya) Texts
- Yutog Nyingtig Outline Page
- Confusions
- Others...

Painting Sets:
- Set 1 (Private Collection)
- Set 2 (RMA)
- Set 3 (Bod kyi thangka)
- Set 4 (Tom & Margo Pritzker)
- Set 5 (RMA)
- Set 6 (RMA)
- Set 7 (RMA)
- Set 8 (RMA)
- Set 9 (Private Collection)
- Set 10 (Buryiat)
- Set 11 (Wisdom Calendar Set)
- Set 12 (American Museum of Natural History)
- Set 13 (Lhasa 20th century)
- Set 14 (Buryatia, Russia)
- Set 15
- Set 16 (Lhasa, Tibet)
- Set 17 (Private)
- Set 18 (Lhasa)
- Other Sets....

The Blue Beryl (vaidurya ngonpo), Ornament to the Mind of Medicine Buddha: Blue Beryl Lamp Illuminating Four Tantras is a commentary to the Four Tantras medical text. The Four Tantras was discovered as a 'Revealed Treasure' text (terma) by Draba Ngonshe in the 11th century. The Blue Beryl medical charts were designed and commissioned by Desi Sanggye Gyatso in the late 17th century. The visual charts were created some time after that but prior to his death in 1705. Sanggye Gyatso also wrote a companion text to the Blue Beryl called the Mirror of Beryl, A Well Explained History of the Glorious Science of Medicine, A Feast to Delight the Rishis where he discusses the history of Buddhist Medicine, Tibetan medicine and the reasons for writing a commentary to the Four Medical Tantras. He began writing the text of the Mirror of Beryl in 1702 and completed the work in 1703.

See the Fifteen Registers found at the top of the first fifteen Blue Beryl compositions. Only the first fifteen compositions have a top register. The registers contain the four main sequential topics relating to the origin myths and state narrative on the Tibetan History of Medicine of the late 17th century:
[1] Medicine Buddha and early Indian Gods and Rishis,
[2] Lineage of the Four Medical Tantras,
[3] Yutog Nyingtig Lineage and
[4] Deities and Protectors of the Yutog Nyingtig.

It is thought that there are several original sets numbering 79 paintings each. A single composition generally represents a single chapter from the Blue Beryl. As can be seen from the Blue Beryl sets recorded on the HAR website, since the 18th century onward the total number of paintings have been reduced by doubling up and sometimes tripling up on chapters thus condensing them into single compositions. The overall result is painting sets of varying and unknown number but definitely reduced in size from the original 79 or so paintings. More research needs to be done to determine if there is an accepted system for reducing the overall number or if it is up to the artist and patron to create a Blue Beryl set according to their own resources.

Jeff Watt 5-2007 [updated 6-2016, 4-2017]

See the publication: Tibetan Medical Paintings, Illustrations to the Blue Beryl Treatise of Sangye Gyamtso Edited by Yuri Parfionovitch, Gyurme Dorje and Fernand Meyer. Serindia Publications 1992. A complete visual documentation - with 8,400 individual images and inscriptions on 77 thangkas - for the education and training of physicians in the many themes, subjects and properties of Tibetan medicine, Tibetan Medical Paintings presents a hitherto unknown set of paintings found in Buryiatia that illustrate a famous seventeenth century medical treatise.

Read more at TBRC