Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

3.47 Ratnasambhava [2]

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The original art is a work of a Nepalese artist during the first half of the 13th century. It belongs to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, size: 16 x 13 inches This Thangka belongs to an original set of five paintings, three of them have survived. The small scale and extraordinarily refined detail seen in this set of paintings presages the quality of the Cleveland Green Tara, where the artistry seen here reached its peak. Three paintings of Tathagatas from an Original set of five have survived. It would seem that they were executed by an artist skilled in the techniques of miniaturist illumination for palm-leaf manuscripts, one who did not adapt his methods to the larger format but simply applied them to these small-scale Thangkas. Even minor passages are exquisite not only in their craftsmanship but also, in equal measure, in their subtlety. They are imbued with internal energy that informs the details: the menacing lions, ther ampant vegetal scrolling, the fierce Garuda, and the cowering serpent deities.

Even the attendant Bodhisattvas accentuate the details: the menacing lions, the rampant vegetal scrolling, the fierce Garuda, and the cowering serpent deities. Even the attendant Bodhisattvas accentuate the movement inherent in their pose by lifting a foot. At the same time, an inward sensibility pervades the central Buddhas and their immediate attendants. Many of the areas of solid colour are seen, on careful inspection, to be enlivened by miniature decorative devices, drawn in black, which are so dense that in some instances they tint the entire field [like the red of the aureoles behind the main deities]. The figures possess an almost doll-like quality, and the overall effect of the ensemble is one of finely wrought ornament, not of monumental form, as in the eastern - Indian - inspired Thangkas.

Many of the details of the compositions in this set are different from the contemporaneous Tathagata sets of eastern Indian inspiration. Here the Buddhas are set on thrones with elaborate back rests framed by intricate toranas rather than being simply seated against pillows with the suggestion of a back rest or torana. The style of this throne back, which derives from the traditional Nepalese repertoire, has already been discussed. It is interesting to note that, although details remain constant from picture to picture, the elements supporting the side bars are variable. Particularly charming is the inclusion of a pair of intertwined male and female kinnaras [...] The elaborate elements that make up these thrones are much more energised than those seen, in the thrones of abbots, for example from the earlier Bengali-inspired tradition. This tendency can be seen throughout the picture, for instance, in the bouquets of flowers- rather than individual blooms - that fall like rain from the sky.

The garb of the Tathagatas and standing Bodhisattvasalso varies from that seen in the earlier series. The Tathagatas' dhotis are longer, and an all over pattern sometimes replaces the striped one. Their belts are narrower and hang down from the waist; shawls follow the backs of the shoulders and hang behind the arms of the deities; crowns, armlets, and anklets have teardrop-shaped - rather than triangular - elements with foliate arms to either side; the large armlets, placed above circular bands, lack dangles; enormous hoop earrings are worn rather than earplugs; double strings of pearls replace some of the earlier necklaces and are enhanced by the addition of intricate necklaces with swags, tassels, and pendants. The standing Bodhisattvas of each group are adorned with similar jewellery, but here it is less elaborate and profuse. Long transparent trousers are worn over brightly patterned undergarments. The ends of five long sashes fall in elaborate pleats along the lower part of the deities' bodies; three are attached to a belt at the front and sides. Another long sash forms a loop across the hips and is tied to the belt in small bows at the sides.

The number and poses of the seated listening Bodhisattvas are also different. Here there are six rather than the usual eight or ten, and they sit in a frontal half-lotus posture. Most brace themselves by placing a hand on the lotus seat rather than by leaning forward to assume a mudra with both hands. The standing Bodhisattvas flanking the Tathagatas vary: Ratnasambhava has a red Manjushri and a white Avalokiteshvara [...]

The placement of four deities in a register at either side of the Garuda at the top of the paintings is unprecedented. It seems that groupings of four were thought to be auspicious, and here there are the four flanking Bodhisattvas [one standing and three seated]: asĀ· well as two groups of four deities in the top register.

relationship of these groups to the main figure is not clear and is not firmly established from set to set. The identification of many of the deities in these registers has proved extremely difficult. In many cases, only their colour, number of hands and heads, and attributes can be established. In the Ratnasamhava, there are two groups of four Tathagatas [Ratnasambhava is not portrayed].

Source: Sacred Visions - early paintings from central Tibet, Stephen M. Kossak and Jane Casey Singer, Page 138 of the catalog of an exhibition held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oct. 6, 1998 - Jan, 17, 1999, and the Rieberg Museum of Art, Zurich, Feb. 14 - May 16, 1999

Other version

Measurements: 19.3 x 25.6" | 49 x 65 cm
Price: on request
Shipment: Parcel Service from Germany or Nepal
Color: Color Version
Material: Natural Stone Colors
High resolution: Display [1.3 MB, 1817 x 2300 px.]