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Ink Painting and the Rinpa Tradition

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The Buddha Amitayus Attended by Bodhisattvas

Date:
11th or early 12th century
Culture:
Tibet
Medium:
Mineral and organic pigments on cloth
Dimensions:
Overall: 54 1/2 x 41 3/4 in. (138.4 x 106.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1989
Accession Number:
1989.284
Rights and Reproduction:
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Description

    One of the largest early Tibetan tangkas, this painting presents the Buddha Amitayus, who sits in meditation holding a kalasha (vase) filled with amrita (the nectar of immortality), emphasizing his role as a Buddha of limitless life and pristine awareness. He wears a jeweled crown with fluttering ribbons, and his many necklaces, bracelets, and luxurious textiles emphasize his radiant yellow body. The shimmering surface particles, which look almost like mica, were not part of the original composition; they appeared over time, as arsenic crystals formed from the orpiment pigments used for the bold yellow color. Standing to either side are the bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara in white and probably Maitreya in yellow. At the top are figures with robes and flat hats who seem to be lay followers; at the lower right, a monk sits before a table of offerings and consecratory implements. Amitayus is understood to be the sambhogakaya body of the Buddha Amitabha (the subtle body of limitless form); thus he can be directly related to the five Tathagata Buddhas that preside over the directional Buddhist Pure Lands (two of whom, Amoghasiddhi and Ratnasambhava, are seen at either side).

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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