Interior of a Book Cover: Manjuvajra Embracing His Consort and Flanking Lamas
late 13th century
Distemper on wood
16 3/4 x 5 5/8 in. (42.5 x 14.3 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund and Louis V. Bell Fund, 1998
Paintings on the interiors of book covers consecrated and protected the ideologically pure space of the text. The lamas shown here no doubt refer to an unbroken chain of teacher-student relationships and the guidance required to understand the subtle meaning of the text. Manjuvajra equally relates to this idea, as he is an esoteric manifestation of Manjushri; a bodhisattva who cuts through ignorance and in this context offers access to difficult ideas contained within the text. By visualizing Manjuvajra, one could potentially gain wisdom, memory, intelligence, and eloquence. The refined and sensitive treatment of the figures, the foliate patterns, and the variety of motifs suggests an artist of great skill executed this painting in the Nepalese stylistic idiom.
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