The three Buddhist deities Vajrapāṇi, Mañjuśrī and Avalokiteśvara. Distemper painting by a Tibetan painter.
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About this work
The painting shows the three Buddhist deities Vajrapāṇi (above), Mañjuśrī (below left) and Avalokiteśvara (below right). These three deities are known as "rigs gsum mgon po" or Lords of the three enlightened families or groups, the three families being the vajra family, the Tathāgata (Buddha) family, and the padma (lotus) family. They are also known as the 'three Bodhisattvas of the heart' who respectively represent power (nus pa), discernment (śes rab) and compassion (sñiṅ rje) The central figure is Vajrapāṇi. His outstretched right hand forms the fascination gesture and holds a vajra (thunderbolt), his left hand forms the preaching gesture, with his little finger extended, while the middle and ring fingers are bent. The serpent in his head dress wears a crown and may represent the nāga (snake spirit) king. Vajrapāṇi wears Bodhisattva ornaments. Around his neck he wears a serpent necklace and around his hips a tiger skin. His body is blue except for the inner sides of his hands, which are pink At the bottom lefthand side is a yellow Mañjuśrī whose left hand forms the preaching gesture, with index and middle finger crossed. Above his left shoulder is a book on a lotus flower from which spring either two lotus blossoms or two pieces of myrobalan fruit. His right hand lifts the sword of wisdom or discernment, and he is seated in meditation posture At the bottom righthand side is a white four-handed Avalokiteśvara, the deity of compassion and charity. His top right hand holds a rosary, his top left hand a white lotus flower. His lower hands form the karuṇā mudrā (compassion gesture) which is like the namaskāra mudrā (prayer gesture) but with only the fingertips touching. His legs are in meditation posture
1 painting : distemper on linen ; distemper 35 x 24 cm
Marianne Winder, Catalogue of Tibetan manuscripts and xylographs, and catalogue of thankas, banners and other paintings and drawings in the Library of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London 1989, p. 78, thankas banners and paintings no. 9
Wellcome Library no. 47093i