Himalayan Art Resources

Padmasambhava: Early Images

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Padmasambhava as the Central Subject:
Paintings of Padmasambhava created prior to the 16th century are very rare. There are only three early works on the HAR website where Padmasambhava is the central figure, HAR #160, HAR #30820, and HAR #92019. The side figures in the paintings are very similar one to the other and seem to follow a similar iconographic program (along with the minor figures in two of the mandalas below - Heruka HAR #89981 and Hayagriva HAR #30911).

Padmasambhava as a Minor Figure:
There are a number of early examples where Padmasambhava is a minor figure in the composition. Two of the paintings depict the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas as the principal theme. A 15th century work, HAR #89, places Padmasambhava as one of the mahasiddhas, likely in place of Padmakara. Followers of the Nyingma tradition often conflate Padmasambhava and Padmakara. The second work situates Padmasambhava as a minor figure slightly above and to the side of the central Vajradhara. In this example, HAR #665, Padmasambhava belongs to a triad with Shakyamuni Buddha as the first figure followed by Padmasambhava and then Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara. In later paintings this triad will become common place with the removal of Shakyamuni and Amitabha Buddha added in his place - Amitabha, Avalokiteshvara and Padmasambhava.

Three of the paintings place the minor figure of Padmasambhava in the top register lineage HAR #30911, HAR #65125 and HAR #90765.

The two paintings of the Eleven-faced Avalokiteshvara, HAR #852 and HAR #58355, depict a small Padmasambhava directly above Jinasagara Avalokiteshvara and the two attendant deities of Jnana Dakini and Hayagriva.

Paintings in Chronological Order:
- Heruka Mandala #89981, 13th century
- Padmasambhava & Krodha Kali #160, 13th/14th century
- Dorje Rabtenma #58320, 14th century
- Hayagriva Mandala #30911, 14th century
- Avalokiteshvara #58355, 14th century
- Padmasambhava #92019, 14th/15th century
- Padmasambhava #30820, 14th/15th century
- Amitabha Buddha in Sukhavati, #88701, 15th century
- Vajradhara #89, 15th century
- Hayagriva #65125, 15th century
- Vajrakila Mandala #90765, 15th century
- Avalokiteshvara #852, 15th century
- Jinasagara Avalokiteshvara #90541, 15th century
- Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara #65080, 15th century
- Haygriva with Consort #77185, 15th/16th century
- Vajradhara #665, 16th century
- Guru Dragpo #69430, 16th century
- Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara #58962, 16th century
- Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara, #89125, 16th century

Jeff Watt 5-2013