Statuary

 
 
Statue of Shakyamuni Buddha
Tibet/China, 18th-19th centuries
Bronze with gilt
11 x 7 1/4 x 5 in. (28 x 18.2 x 12.5 cm.)
(On loan from the Bayly Museum of the University of Virginia)
The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, is represented here as he was at the time he overcame his final temptation by the demon Mara. Dressed in monastic robes, seated in the lotus posture upon a lotus throne supported by snow lions, his right hand reaches down to touch the ground (bhumi-sparsha, sa la reg pa) as he did when he called upon the goddess of the earth to bear witness that he had overcome the cycle of birth and death and achieved enlightenment, while his left hand remains in his lap in the gesture of serene meditation (dhyana-mudra, bsam gtan gyi phyag rgya).
Statue of an Indian Yogin or 'Great Adept' (maha-siddha, sgrub thob chen po)
Tibet, ca. 17th century
Copper alloy inset with semi-precious stones
4 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/2 in. (11.1 x 9.5 x 6.0 cm.)
(On loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Acc. #91.525 Gift of Berthe and John Ford, ©1997 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
This piece is a superb representation of one of the eighty-four 'Great Adepts' (maha-siddha, sgrub thob chen po) of Indian Tantric Buddhism, of whom the most famous is Naropa, the originator of the teachings explained in the texts displayed here. These adepts were generally considered rebellious or eccentric figures who self-consciously flouted societal and religious norms. As such, they are often portrayed as naked, in sexual union, wearing ornaments of human bones, or engaging in unorthodox behavior. This figure is seated in a relaxed pose, holding a vajra in his right hand and a skullcup (kapala, thod pa) surmounted by a crossed vajra in his left hand. He wears the bone ornaments traditionally associated with wrathful deities, including a skull diadem, earrings, chest-piece, anklets, bracelets, armlets, etc. He also wears a fabric band used by yogins to hold their legs in place for prolonged periods of meditation, in additional to a freshly flayed human skin over his shoulder. This statue may depict Virupa, an important Indian saint and a central figure in the lineage of the Sa-kya school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Carved Wooden Print Block
Tibet, 18th-19th centuries
Wood
18 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (47 x 9.5 cm.)
(On loan from the Bayly Museum of the University of Virginia)
This piece is a wood block used in the printing of Tibetan books called  bay-cha (dpe cha). This particular block is from a Buddhist sutra, probably from the "Perfection of Wisdom" (prajnaparamita, pha rol tu phyin pa) class of literature. This piece is included here to illustrate the primary book-making technology employed in Tibet up until the Chinese annexation in the middle of the present century. Many of the Tibetan language books in the present exhibition were produced by means of similar blocks.
Statue of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche)
Tibet, C. 17th century
Figure: Ivory
Height: 4 1/2 in (11 1/2 cm.)
Throne: Silver
Height: 8 3/4 in. (22 1/4 cm.
(On loan from Georgiana McCabe)
This Tibetan figure of Padmasambhava, the Lotus Born, wears full robes and a half-vajra hat. It sits on a raised beaten silver throne and double nimbus, all with heavy repousse. Padmasambhava is the legendary eighth century founder of the Nyingma-pa Buddhist order and one of the first to bring Buddhism to Tibet. A master of esoteric doctrines and rites, he is revered for subduing indigenous Tibetan demons bent on preventing Buddhism from taking root in Tibet. Padmasambhava is believed to have hidden many of his esoteric teachings as literary 'treasures' or terma (gter ma) in unusual and remote locations so that they would later be recovered at a time when their spiritual message would have the most beneficial impact. Among these treasures is the Tibetan Book of the Dead, later revealed by Karma Lingpa (Kar ma gling pa, b.ca.1350).
Statue of the goddess Green Tara (rje btsun sgrol ma)
Tibet, 20th century
Copper, bronze, semi-precious stones, gilt and pigment
8 1/4 x 4 1/2 in. (21 x 11.5 cm.)
(On loan from David Germano)
Tara is one of the most venerated bodhisattvas in all of Tibetan Buddhism. According to legend, she was born from a tear shed by Tibet's patron bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara (spyans ras gzigs). Here Green Tara is shown sitting upon a  lotus throne with her right foot extended and resting on a small lotus. Her right hand is extended across her right knee in the gesture of charity (vara-mudra), and her left hand is held up in the gesture of philosophical argumentation (vitarka-mudra). In both hands she holds the stems of blue lotuses (utpala) which are in full flower, one at her right, and the other at her left shoulder.

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