Himalayan Art Resources

Indian Adept: Central Figure Compositions (for 8 & 84)

Systems of Mahasiddhas

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Eight Mahasiddhas
- Eighty-four Mahasiddhas
- Confusions
- Others...

Central Figures for Singles & Sets:
- Jnanatapa
- Padampa Sanggye
- Padmasambhava: HAR #81409, HAR #65780
- Tsongkapa
- Vajradhara
- Eight Siddhas with no central figure
- Others... #8908

For the Eight Siddhas in either a single composition or a painting set it is common to have Vajradhara or Padmasambhava as the central figure. The latter figure became popular in the 18th century with the Palpung Monastery and their unique painting style and iconographic configurations. Jnanatapa is found as the central figure of a single early composition.

The Eighty-four Mahasiddhas painted as a single composition generally have Vajradhara at the center. There are some single compositions using other figures such as Tsongkapa or Padampa Sanggye. For painting sets of there five or more compositions then the central figure again is generally Vajradhara followed by important figures in the subsequent compositions such as Nagarjuna, Saraha, Tilopa, Naropa, Atisha and others depending on the size of the set. There are no established rules as to who the secondary central figures are. It is standard and in keeping with the overall concept to have Vajradhara Buddha as the principal central figure.

Jeff Watt 8-2019