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The Cosmic Buddha Vairochana
Place of Origin: Tibet, Sakya Monastery
Date: approx. 1275-1350
Object Name: Thangka
Materials: Colors on cotton
Dimensions: H. 33 3/8 in x W. 26 1/4 in, H. 82.2 cm x W. 66.6 cm (image); H. 52 in x W. 37 in, H. 132.1 cm x W. 94 cm (overall)
Credit Line: Museum purchase, City Arts Trust Fund
Department: Himalayan Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1991.1
On Display: No

Description

Label:

This painting depicts the Buddha of the center, Vairochana. His name is translated as "The Radiant One," and he is sometimes described as the "Sun Buddha." Vairochana sits at the center and summit of the universe, where he is able to see all things. As a result, he is called "all-seeing" (sarva-vid).

Vairochana is not the only Buddha present in this painting. Notice how the area behind the shrine is made of minutely detailed Buddhas. These Buddhas appear in a pattern called a "pointed shrine" (kutagara). Each pointed arch in the shrine is made of one of the five color-coded Buddhas. Each sector of the mandala is thereby represented in this one painting, and the whole is present in its parts.

Such images, which can be described as "fractal," present a similar pattern at multiple scales. They occur throughout art of the Lightning Vehicle. A stupa silhouette composed of consecration formulas appears on the reverse of this painting.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet", Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (4/17/1991-8/18/1991), IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York (10/15/1991-12/28/1991), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2/15/1992-4/28/1992)

Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism, March 14 — October 26, 2014, Asian Art Museum
Label:

This painting depicts the Buddha of the center, Vairochana. His name is translated as "The Radiant One," and he is sometimes described as the "Sun Buddha." Vairochana sits at the center and summit of the universe, where he is able to see all things. As a result, he is called "all-seeing" (sarva-vid).

Vairochana is not the only Buddha present in this painting. Notice how the area behind the shrine is made of minutely detailed Buddhas. These Buddhas appear in a pattern called a "pointed shrine" (kutagara). Each pointed arch in the shrine is made of one of the five color-coded Buddhas. Each sector of the mandala is thereby represented in this one painting, and the whole is present in its parts.

Such images, which can be described as "fractal," present a similar pattern at multiple scales. They occur throughout art of the Lightning Vehicle. A stupa silhouette composed of consecration formulas appears on the reverse of this painting.


Exhibition History: "Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet", Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (4/17/1991-8/18/1991), IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York (10/15/1991-12/28/1991), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2/15/1992-4/28/1992)

Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism, March 14 — October 26, 2014, Asian Art Museum