The cult of Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life, was popular in Tibet, where his followers believed that devotion to this Buddha would prolong life. Amitayus is shown holding a jar containing the elixir of immortality, amrita, in his lap. He is richly bejeweled and has a golden complexion, creating radiance appropriate to his transcendent nature. He mediates in a heavenly assembly of bodhisattvas, flanked by two standing bodhisattvas typical of medieval eastern Indian art and an array of seated bodhisattvas who receive his doctrine. The seven figures in the uppermost register are monastic robed hierarchs. In the lower register is a couple, presumably donors of the painting, and a monk, likely their spiritual mentor.
Inscription: Mantras on the back:
ōṃ sa rva byid svā hā ||
ye dha rmā he tu pra bha bā he tun
te ṣān ta thā ga to hya HŪṂ ba dad te
ṣān tsa yo ni ro dha ye baṃ bā ti ma hā shra ma ṇaḥ|
bzod pa dka’ thub dam pa bzod pa'I |
mya ngan ’das pa mchog
ces sangs rgyas gsung ||
rab du byung ba gzhan la gnod pa dang || gzhan la ’tshe ba
dge’ sbyong ma yin no ||
Nothing can be read out of the mantras on the back, which are the most often used ones: the sarvavid-mantra is followed by the Buddhist creed and the patience creed. Eventually, a comparison of the mistakes in the mantras will yield additional information.