Himalayan Art Resources

Sculpture: Tree Configuration of Figures

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Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Tree Configuration Description (below)
- Three Figure Configuration
- Multiple Figure Configuration
- Lotus Mandala
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

The Tree Configuration of Figures in Himalayan style sculptural art is a development over time that makes use of the late 1st millennium elongated lotus stem and seat originally accommodating a single figure. Several good examples that depict this are a Tara in stone, an Amoghapasha and a Vairochana Buddha. Another variation on this elongated flower blossom is the Lotus Mandala with the longest stem of all and a completely enclosing articulated lotus flower.

With early examples the stem and flower base would support a single figure. The idea was expanded to accommodate three or more figures. The best example of the three figure configuration is with the Three Lords of the Families, an early Kriya Tantra concept that combines Manjushri, Lokeshvara and Vajrapani. For the Three Lords see examples #57136, #57138, #57139. Examples of Padmasambhava with the two main consorts can also be found seated above an elongated lotus. A good example of a seven figure configuration can be seen with an image of Amoghasiddhi Buddha.

The Tree Configuration at its largest generally depicts either Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Elders or Padmasambhava and the Eight principal forms. This development into the larger tree shaped configuration for Shakyamuni and Padmasambhava is late, 16th to 19th century, but can clearly be understood as a development from the earlier Indian and Himalayan models.

Jeff Watt 11-2013 [updated 6-2017]