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Buddha in Vajrasana

Khara-Khoto

Late 11th-12th centuries

Gouache on cotton 76 x 56 cm

This thangka (an image painted for religious purposes or as an aid to meditation) does not present any certain moment from Buddha's life but embodies the Buddhist concept of the comprehension of the highest wisdom. Buddha, whose body is distinguished by the bright red colour of his garment and the oval nimbus, is depicted in the Vajrasana pose. The right hand is lowered with the palm turned inwards the gesture of calling upon the Earth to witness Buddha's enlightenment. On his right is Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, on his left Bodhisattva Maitreya. Figures of other bodissattvas seated on lotuses are arranged in threes above each of them. Along the upper edge of the thangka is an arcade with five niches with seated Buddhas (the last on the right has perished). The plinth of the principal figure's throne forms an open gallery divided into seven compartments, each of which contains a deity or a genius of the Hindu pantheon. On both sides of the gallery are depictions of gurus (teachers preaching Buddhism) set against oval nimbuses. The bright colouring, the beauty of the rhythms and symmetry of the composition evoke a feeling of harmony and peace.

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