Himalayan Art Resources

Padmasambhava: Eight Forms & Life Story (Single Painting)

Padmasambhava Life Story Page

Padmasambhava life story paintings can be found in sets of compositions, often nine in number, or they can be found as wall murals in temples. It is very common to find sets depicting the principal form of Padmasambhava along with the Eight Forms, or manifestations, in single compositions.

Video: Padmasambhava Masterwork (HAR 90161)

It is not all that common to find Padmasambhava life story paintings and the Eight Forms in a single composition. On this page there are several individual paintings and one image of a partial wall mural depicting the life story and Eight Forms. Two of the images are from Tibet and two are from Bhutan.

The most detailed of the images is HAR #90161. The painting has some damage but the integrity and beauty of the painting and creativity of the artist has not been lost. The over-all composition is wonderful but the true magnificence of the painting is in the details. The composition of the painting is also unique because the Eight Forms follow the chronology of events in the story where as the other three images on the page do not.

It has become, over the last several hundred years, the artistic convention to arrange the Eight Forms of Padmasambhava according to iconographic hierarchy rather than to follow the strict chronology of the life story. Typically the celestial forms of Padmasambhava appear at the top, followed by the earthly forms and lastly the two wrathful forms at the bottom left and right of a composition.

Jeff Watt 4-2012