Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Art Sets (Painting, Sculpture, Textile)

Art History Main Page

Sets of works of painting, sculpture and textiles account for at least half or more of all Himalayan and Tibetan art making sets a unique feature of Himalayan Art. There are five major types of painting and textile sets. Sculpture has four types with the removal of life story as a type.

Art Sets According to Medium:
- Painting Sets: Main Page
- Sculpture Sets: Main Page
- Textile Sets: Main Page

Five Types of Art Sets by Subject:
1. Life Story (Narrative)
2. Lineage
3. Tantric Cycle
4. Compendium
5. Number Sets

1. Life Story (Narrative) applies to painting and textile and not to sculpture. Narrative, life story and biography are very popular subjects beginning with the Buddha, Jataka and Avadana stories followed by important Tibetan teachers such as Padmasambhava, Milarepa and others.

2. Lineage sets are probably the most common of art sets. They begin with a deity or semi-historical figure such as the Buddha, Vajradhara or a bodhisattva such as Vajrapani and then depict a series of Indian followed by Tibetan and Himalayan teachers all the way done to the time of the creation of the art set.

3. Tantric Cycle art sets are a series of individual subjects be they deities or mandalas that are all related to a single Tantric cycle of practice generally all arising from the same textual source such as the Sarva Durgati Parishodhana, Tattvasamgraha or another significant tantra source.

4. Compendium art sets are collections of things, usually deities and mandalas, that are not necessarily related to a source tantra but might be related by classification such as wealth deities, power deities or long life deities. There are a number of famous collections of meditational deities such as the Vajravali, Nishpannayogavali, Jyotirmanjari, Mitra Gyatsa, Bari Gyatsa, Patshab Gyatsa, and many more. These compendiums of deities are commonly depicted in painting and sculpture.

5. Number Sets are the subjects of all the other types of art sets that are not covered by the four types listed above. Common examples of number sets in art are the Buddhas of the Three Times, Eight Great Bodhisattva, Sixteen Arhats, Twenty-one Taras, etc.

Jeff Watt 2-2016