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- Textile tangka
- Length: 35.00 inch
- Width: 25.50 inch
- Acquired: Likir Monastery in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India
- Koelz number: K576
Bhaisajyaguru. The central figure is Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha. He is the appropriate dark-blue color, with the palms, the soles of the feet, fingers, and toes painted in a flesh tone, and drawn gold chakras on the soles and on the open palm of one hand. The Buddha holds a fruit of the myrobalan plant—emblem of healing—in his right hand; fruits of this same plant appear in the bowl in his left hand. His face, neck, and ears have been gilded over the blue base paint. Two disciples, Chandragupta with the moon above him, and Suryagupta with the sun above him, stand on either side.
The small figure in the top row at the far left represents the mother of Dharmakaya. In the center of this row is Shakyamuni, who presides over the eight Medicine Buddhas represented by the remaining seven figures in the row plus the main figure of Bhaisajyaguru. In the next row, the red central figure is Manjushri, a lotus with a book by his left shoulder indicating his identity. Although there was probably a sword in his raised right hand, only a slight touch of gold paint remains.
It would seem that we have the trinity of Bodhisattvas illustrated. Vajrapani, the green figure third from the left, is indicated by the vajra (a stylized lightning bolt or diamond scepter) on a lotus located at his shoulder. The golden figure third from the right should be Avalokiteshvara, but there remains no trace of a gilded lotus.
The remaining twelve figures in rows two, three, and four represent the offering dakinis. They make seven offerings: water for drinking, water for washing, flowers, incense, a lamp for clarity, saffron water, and food. They also offer the five faculties, or skandhas: the sense organs, the emotional faculties, the faculties for spiritual conception, the faculty of decision, and the faculty of consciousness control.
The next five rows hold one figure on either side of the central grouping. These are the dikpalas, ten directional guardians who represent the Hindu gods. On the left-hand side of the tangka from top to bottom are: Brahma (zenith) riding a goose, Indra (east) riding an elephant, Agni (southeast) riding a goat, Yama (south) riding a buffalo, and Nairrti (southwest) riding a human form. On the right-hand side we have: Varuna (west) riding a makara, Vayu (northwest) riding a deer, Kubera (north) riding a horse, Ishana (northeast) riding a bull, and Visnu (nadir) riding a blue boar.
The outer figures in the last two rows are the lokapalas (guardians of the four directions): Vaishravana (north), Virudhaka (south), Dhrtarastra (east), and Virupaksa (west). The remaining 12 figures in the last two rows are the twelve yaksha princes, guardians of wealth, each holding a mongoose. The background for this entire grouping is a very general landscape with green hills below, water at the level of the central lotus, and sky above.
Note: There is a vertical seam on the left side of the painting so that the width is composed of two pieces of material, one 19.5 inches wide and the other 6 inches wide. 17th century. Note: Jeffrey Watt, Himalayan Art Resources, attributes to the 18th century.