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The Buddha Shakyamuni with lamas
Place of Origin: Tibet
Date: 1700-1800
Object Name: Thangka
Materials: Colors on cotton
Dimensions: H. 34 1/8 in x W. 21 in, H. 86.7 cm x 53.3 cm (image); H. 60 3/4 in x W. 30 1/8 in, H. 154.3 cm x W. 76.5 cm (overall)
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: Himalayan Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: B60D23+
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 12

Description

Label:

At the center of this painting, the historical Buddha Shakyamuni touches the earth at the very moment of his enlightenment. Nearer the top of the painting, there are figures dressed in light Indian garb; they are the adepts (siddha) who helped introduce esoteric Buddhism into the Himalayas.

Wearing heavier Tibetan robes and hats, figures on the right of the painting are teachers of the Profound Path, which focuses on the realization of Emptiness. On the left appear teachers of the Vast Path, which focuses on realizing the nature of Appearance. To realize Emptiness and Appearance simultaneously amounts to enlightenment in the Tibetan tradition.

Fierce forms of Buddhas visualized in the Himalayas appear here as well; each constitutes a combined male-and-female figure called yab-yum, which means “father-mother” in Tibetan. By visualizing such conjoined Buddhas, meditators realize how seeming opposites—like male and female, or self and other—are actually part of a holistic continuum.


More Information

Exhibition History: "One Billion Buddhas: The Awakened Cosmos of Himalayan Buddhism", Asian Art Museum, 8/9/2016-4/9/2017
Additional Label:

Here Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, sits with his bare soles turned upward. His right hand points downward, in the gesture of calling the Earth as a witness to his victory over the demon Mara. The Buddha's left hand, on whose palm is an image of a wheel, is in the gesture of meditation. The wheel is also shown on both soles, and refers to the Buddha as the universal monarch and to his doctrine (teachings).

Notice the throne-back decoration round his halo. The mythical bird Garuda (Tibetan: Khyung) is shown above two sacred crocodiles (makara), below which are men on horseback and lions riding elephants. These features are borrowed from Indian sculpture.

Around Shakyamuni are concentric arcs of monks. Below, a circle of monks surrounds Vajrabhairava, a tutelary deity (yidam) of the Gelug Order of Tibetan Buddhism. At top center is the Buddha Vajradhara in union with his consort. Below them is the abbot Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelug Order of Tibetan Buddhism.

Wrathful deities such as Mahakala and Penden Lhamo are also shown below Shakyamuni. Various emblems of Buddhism-the Eight Auspicious Symbols, the Eight Auspicious Substances, and the Five Attributes of Sensory Enjoyment-are depicted at the bottom of the painting.


Label:

At the center of this painting, the historical Buddha Shakyamuni touches the earth at the very moment of his enlightenment. Nearer the top of the painting, there are figures dressed in light Indian garb; they are the adepts (siddha) who helped introduce esoteric Buddhism into the Himalayas.

Wearing heavier Tibetan robes and hats, figures on the right of the painting are teachers of the Profound Path, which focuses on the realization of Emptiness. On the left appear teachers of the Vast Path, which focuses on realizing the nature of Appearance. To realize Emptiness and Appearance simultaneously amounts to enlightenment in the Tibetan tradition.

Fierce forms of Buddhas visualized in the Himalayas appear here as well; each constitutes a combined male-and-female figure called yab-yum, which means “father-mother” in Tibetan. By visualizing such conjoined Buddhas, meditators realize how seeming opposites—like male and female, or self and other—are actually part of a holistic continuum.


Exhibition History: "One Billion Buddhas: The Awakened Cosmos of Himalayan Buddhism", Asian Art Museum, 8/9/2016-4/9/2017
Expanded Label:

Here Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, sits with his bare soles turned upward. His right hand points downward, in the gesture of calling the Earth as a witness to his victory over the demon Mara. The Buddha's left hand, on whose palm is an image of a wheel, is in the gesture of meditation. The wheel is also shown on both soles, and refers to the Buddha as the universal monarch and to his doctrine (teachings).

Notice the throne-back decoration round his halo. The mythical bird Garuda (Tibetan: Khyung) is shown above two sacred crocodiles (makara), below which are men on horseback and lions riding elephants. These features are borrowed from Indian sculpture.

Around Shakyamuni are concentric arcs of monks. Below, a circle of monks surrounds Vajrabhairava, a tutelary deity (yidam) of the Gelug Order of Tibetan Buddhism. At top center is the Buddha Vajradhara in union with his consort. Below them is the abbot Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelug Order of Tibetan Buddhism.

Wrathful deities such as Mahakala and Penden Lhamo are also shown below Shakyamuni. Various emblems of Buddhism-the Eight Auspicious Symbols, the Eight Auspicious Substances, and the Five Attributes of Sensory Enjoyment-are depicted at the bottom of the painting.