Himalayan Art Resources

Shakyamuni Buddha: Jataka Stories Main Page

Shakyamuni: Religious Context

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Subjects & Topics:
- Jataka Stories Description (below)
- Jataka Outline Page
- Thirty-four Jataka Tales (& Stories)
- One-hundred Jataka Tales
- Foundational Buddhism Main Page (Hinayana)
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Jataka Painting & Block Print Sets:
- Block Print Set
- MFA Boston Set
- Central Tibet Set
- Eastern Tibet Set
- Palpung Style Set
- Zannabazar Museum Set
- St. Louis Museum Set
- David Nalin Set
- Chinese Painting Style
- Related Avadana Sets
- Others....

Composition Format Types:
- Jataka Stories Single Composition (all stories)
- Register/horizontal Composition
- Floating Composition
- Three Compositions
- Eleven Compositions
- Others...

There are hundreds of Jataka Tales that describe the events and various previous births of Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition the vast majority of painted depictions focus on either the Thirty-four tales or the longer One Hundred Jataka Tales. The collection known as the Thirty-four Jatakas are included as the first series of thirty-four stories in the One-hundred Jatakas.

Over the time span of the last millennium there have been many Tibetan edited versions of texts retelling these stories. There can also be many minor variations and sometimes the addition of extra stories, yet despite these differences, all of the edited versions generally follow the same list of titles and are commonly known by all as the two collections of stories, the Thirty-four Jataka Tales and the One Hundred Jataka Tales.

The Jataka Stories, both the thirty-four and one-hundred, are almost always depicted in sets of multiple compositions - painting sets. The sets can have as few as three compositions or more than a dozen. On the HAR website there is a painting depicting all one-hundred stories in a single composition and another single painting depicting the life story of the Buddha along with the Thirty-four Jataka stories. (See both images).

Jeff Watt 1-2013 [updated 12-2018]