Book Cover from a Manuscript of the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra

Period: Thakuri-Malla periods

Date: 10th–11th century

Culture: Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)

Medium: Ink and color on wood, with metal insets

Dimensions: 2 1/4 x 22 3/8 in. (5.7 x 56.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of John and Evelyn Kossak, The Kronos Collections and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Findlay, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.511


This painted cover for a palm-leaf manuscript belongs to the Pala- Nepalese tradition. It comes from a palm-leaf edition of the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (“Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Verses”). Seated at center is Prajnaparamita, the goddess of transcendent wisdom and the personification of the text she holds in a raised hand. Two seated bodhisattvas, Padmapani Lokeshvara and Vajrasattva, attend her. At left are two miraculous events from the life of the historical Buddha: his birth in the Lumbini grove, and his subduing of the enraged elephant Nalagiri at Rajgir. Depicted at right is the Buddha’s first sermon at Sarnath, where he preached to an assembly of monks and bodhisattvas, and the miracle at Shravasti, where he caused a multiplicity of Buddhas to appear.