Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Thirty-five Confession Buddhas Main Page

Confession Buddha Masterworks

- Art History

- Iconography

- Religious Context


The Sutra of the Three Heaps, in Sanskrit the Triskhandhadharmasutra, or briefly the Triskandha Sutra (phung po gsum pa'i mdo), is a Mahayana ritual text used primarily by monks and nuns for the purpose of confession of downfalls which means transgressions against the vinaya and bodhisattva vows. The central object of worship is the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas, including Shakyamuni Buddha. The name of the sutra follows from the three principal sections of the text: 1) homage, 2) confession, and 3) and dedication. There are other texts on confession found in the various Mahayana Sutras however none of those appear to have any representations in Himalayan and Tibetan art.

Paintings and sets of paintings depicting Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Arhats are a representation of the basic Hinayana Buddhist origins and tenets - specifically the Vinaya, moral code and such. The thirty-five Confession Buddhas are a representation of the purification of the Bodhisattva aspiration and moral code of Mahayana Buddhism. It is common to find these two subjects depicted together in Himalayan and Tibetan art.

Database Search: Shakyamuni Buddha & the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas

Jeff Watt 7-2011 [updated 5-2015, 4-2017, 12-2019]