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Arnold Lieberman

5. Thangka of Vairocana
Western Tibet
14th c.
Distemper on prepared fabric
17 x 15 inches, 43 x 38 cm
Thangka of Vairocana
Detail: Thangka of Vairocana, center detail

This small, vivid painting of Buddha Vairocana with its special shapes and motifs is a fine example of the distinctive Western Tibetan style. As Lord of Centerless Space, Vairocana represents the unconfined matrix of infinite potential that is the font of all experience. His special wisdom quality is complete comprehension of truth and reality, the final antidote to delusion and ignorance . Because Vairocana is the source of all illumination, he is white in color, symbolizing the purity of consciousness . Crowned and enclosed within an elaborate aureole, he takes his seat on a lion throne as the eternal, celestial embodiment of Dharma, performing his characteristic mudra, the gesture of Turning the Wheel. In this traditional arrangement he is flanked on either side by a pair of similarly crowned attendants. Occupying the space above are bodhisattvas seated in the posture of Royal Ease. Donors or devotees are cleverly featured below as elements upholding the throne itself. The relative simplicity of composition and color in this painting allow for uncluttered access to this special subject. (Marguerite Mott)

Works Cited

1. Huntington, John C. and Dina Bangdel. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2003.


Detail: Thangka of Vairocana, right side detail
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