Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Amitabha, the Buddha of the Western Pure Land (Sukhavati)

ca. 1700
Central Tibet
Distemper with gold on cloth
56 1/4 × 39 1/2 in. (142.9 × 100.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Barbara and William Karatz Gift and funds from various donors, 2004
Accession Number:
Not on view
Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life, is also known as Amitabha, one of the five Cosmic Buddhas of Esoteric Buddhism. He is shown in his paradise, Sukhavati, the Western Pure Land, enthroned beneath a flowering tree festooned with strands of jewels and auspicious symbols. To either side the sky is filled with throngs of ecstatic demigods who bear offerings and scatter flowers. Seated below are the eight great bodhisattvas, and between them are two large, low tables covered with offerings. To either side are the vast assembled audiences who receive Amitayus’s message. At the bottom, set within a vast panoramic landscape, are courtyards, giant lotus flowers, and pools from which the purified are being reborn.
Inscription: {line 1} *| | ōṃ svaṃ stu|

|bde gshegs rin chon snyon ba'i spye[a]d ldar ru |
|bde gshegs rin chen (byon?/ston) pa'i spyan sngar ru |

|byong chub thugs sbyod rgyal ba tshe thar yus |
|byang chub thugs bskyed rgyal ba tshe mtha’ yas |

|do dbang sngon ba rdzag pa'i sangs rgyas nas|
|do dbang(?) mngon par rdzogs pa'i sangs rgyas nas|

|zhis du bkod pa phun sum mtshogs pa grub |
|zhing du bkod pa phun sum tshogs pa grub |

|rgyu spyor yad bdag mdzod ming snyan snyon dra gi|
|rgyu sbyor yon bdag mdzod ming snyan (snyan) grags gis|

|snang snyag 'di ñis bźis ba'i | |dge bas mthos
|snang brnyan 'di ñid bźengs pa'i dge bas mthus|

skye ba 'di nas tshe rab thams cod du|
skye ba 'di nas tshe rabs thams cad du|

|'od dpag mod 'gon rgyus su bzung ba shogs |
|'od dpag med mgon rjes su bzung bar shog |

|chad bar tshe 'di rnang/d ba ste ba rmin |
|chad par tshe 'di (rnang/d ba ste ba rmin ??)|

Sukhāvatī Inscription:

|bde ba can du ped mo rdzing skyes nas |
|bde ba can du pad mor rdzus skyes nas |

|sa lo sgrod ba sd/ngan pa mthar phyir te |
|sa lam bgrod pa ldan (?) pa mthar phyin te |

|rnams mkhyon rgyal bas go pho thob pa shogs|
|rnam mkhyen rgyal ba’i go 'phangs thob par shog|

|tsig pa 'di yang phyag mdzod blo bzang snyin grag nas bskur ngor|
|ces pa 'di yang phyag mdzod blo bzang snyan grags nas bskur ngor|

|bla ma ka chen nas| |bris song dza yon tu |
|bla ma ka chen nas| |bris song (pa rdjogs so?) dza yantu |

|dgo 'o| |yag saṃ| |bkra śis|
|dge 'o| |yag saṃ| |bkra śis|

Tentative translation:

In the presence of the Buddha jewel teacher (ston pa)
the Jina Amitāyus created the thought of enlightenment and
since he has reached complete Buddhahood
completed the excellent arrangement of [his Buddha] field.
May the renowned and wealthy patron who
has created this picture by virtue of it
in successive lives after this one
be accepted by the lord Amitābha.
May [he] when this life ends ...
be instantaneously born on a lotus in Sukhāvatī (bDe-ba-can)
and after having completed the [five] paths and [ten] bhūmi
attain the dignity of the all-knowing Jina.
This has been written by bla-ma Ka-chen in veneration of the treasurer Lobsang-nyendrag

_Trans. by Christian Luczanitz, 2/5/2004
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Himalayas," December 15, 2010–December 4, 2011.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cosmic Buddhas in the Himalayas," June 24, 2017–December 10, 2017.

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