Tibet, second half of the 13th century
Distemper on cloth
94.9 x 71.6 cm (373/8 x 281/4 in.)
Amoghasiddhi is shown seated in typical fashion, flanked by Manjushri (right) and Avalokiteshvara (left) and
surrounded by a chorus of ten bodhisattvas His throne is supported by two kinnaras, his vehicles, while two others,
playing horns, inhabit the side niches. The half-avian-half-human creatures are paired on either side of a central
throne cloth that is emblazoned with double vajras and which falls, uncharacteristically, against a decorated
background rather than a void. The outer edges of the throne base are supported by two serpent deities
(nagarajas), who can be recognized only by their naga hoods; no other reptilian features appear. Amoghasiddhi
sits against a Bengali-style throne whose double tier is supported by rampant vyalas astride elephants. Two
makaras are poised on the upper rail of the throne back, and their tails swoop down before spiraling up along the
sides of the aureole.
It is not usual for Tathagatas to be enthroned in this manner. in the earliest example in the Bengali style (cat. no. 4), the only suggestion of a throne back is seen in the
two triangular flanges that abut the top of the bolster, and there is no foliate scrolling around the aureole.
In early-thirteenth-century examples, no throne back is visible but
a small decorative scroll is nestled into the space between the pillow and the aureole (cat. no. 23). The inclusion of the complete throne,
which had previously been reserved mainly for hierarchs, would appear to be a late-thirteenth century development.
This has led to an interesting spatial incongruity; the vyalas overlap the elbows of the standing bodhisattvas, placing the attendants behind rather than at the side of Amoghasiddhi. This same phenomenon is seen in a number of contemporaneous thankas and seems to be a misunderstanding of the original spatial conception (see cat. no. 24). The
lower register has a series of five figures: the consecrator, a Tara, Vaishravana, Dhanda (possibly), and Kubera. The painting of Amoghasiddhi seems to have been the one of the set of five reserved for the portrayal of the consecrator. Usually, a separate cell was reserved for the offerings, but here they are compressed in a panel to the right of the monk and radically reduced in size. SMK