Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pancha Raksha Outline Page

One of the most difficult to recognize iconographic forms represented in art is the Pancha Raksha - Five Protector Goddesses. The difficulty arises from the fact that there are numerous traditions originating in India and later moving to Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and China. Each of these traditions describes the five goddesses differently. The colours can be different, the numbers of faces and arms can be different, the postures and what they hold in the hands can be different. These five figures are commonly created as both sculpture, painting and wall murals. In paintings they are both central subjects, figures or mandalas, as well as minor figures in a composition with an unrelated central figure.

General Traditions:
1. Vajravali, 13 Deity Mandala (Abhayakaragupta)
2. 56 Deity Mandala
2. Bari Gyatsa (Bari Lotsawa)
3. Nartang Gyatsa (Atisha)
4. Sadhana-samucchaya (3 systems. Edited version of the 9th Je Khenpo)

A page of Selected Masterworks has been added and can be accessed from the Pancha Raksha Main Page or the Outline Page.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Three New Outlines

- Kurukulla: Goddess of Power
- Krishna Yamari: the Black Killer of Death
- Rakta Yamari: The Red Killer of Death
- Vajrabhairava: Wrathful Manjushri (updated)

The Five Systems of Twenty-one Taras

It seems that the more popular a deity becomes, more and more forms are created. Tara along with Lokeshvara and Manjushri have many score if not hundreds of different iconographic depictions both described in the Tantric literature and found in paintings and sculpture. Some of these iconographic forms of Tara belong to groups or sets such as the Twenty-one Taras. Three of these groups were created approximately 1000 years ago or more; the Suryagupta, Atisha and Sadhana-samucchaya systems. The first two are named after the Kashmiri and Indian teachers that popularized the systems. The third is named for the Sanskrit text in which a unique system of the Twenty-one Taras is described. The most recent of the systems are the Longchen Nyingtig developed by Jigme Lingpa in the late 1700s, based on the inspiration of Longchenpa, and the system of Chogyur Lingpa from the mid 1800s.

1. Solitary Form
2. Three Deity Configuration: Tara, Brikuti and Ekajati
3. Five Deity Configuration
4. Tara and the Eight Fears
5. The Five Systems of the Twenty-one Taras
6. Tara Seventeen Deity Mandala
7. The One-hundred Names (and depictions) of Tara

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Topic Outline Pages - Links

In the Links section of the HAR website there is a complete annotated list in a linear format of all Topic Outline Pages. This list has just been updated with the twenty or so Outlines made in the last six weeks or so. If you have time on your hands and don't know what you want to look at on the site, then go to the linear Outlines List and wander around - see where it takes you.

Mandala Technical Glossary

The main Mandala Outline Page has been updated and several new detailed and expanded mandala outlines have been created. A new Mandala Technical Glossary has been added to the site. It can be found on the Glossary Page or found linked to the various mandala pages and outlines.

Mandala Art Topics Outline
Mandala: Sets & Traditions Outline
What are Mandalas?
Mandala-like Circular Forms Outline
Mandala Technical Glossary

How to Identify a Deity Image

Each deity figure has six principal characteristics necessary in identification: [1] gender, [2] mood, [3] colour, [4] body configuration, [5] posture, [6] gestures & hand attributes.

How to Identify a Deity Image
What is gender?
What is mood?
What are the colours?
What is body configuration?
What are the postures?
What are gestures & hand attributes?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chakrasamvara: Organized & Updated

The Buddhist Tantric meditational deity Chakrasamvara is a popular subject in Himalayan style art. There are many forms of the deity from a one face, two armed, blue, solitary standing figure, to a seated white figure with a consort. The forms become more complicated with three faces and six arms, four faces and twelve arms and then over a thousand arms with over a thousand retinue deities inhabiting the mandala. Even though the central figure can be identical between two different mandalas, the number and appearance of the retinue figures in the mandala can be different. All of this adds to the great difficulty in correctly identifying a particular Chakrasamvara, painting, sculpture or mandala.

New pages created:
Chakrasamvara Outline Page (updated)
Chakrasamvara Deity Forms Outline (new)
Chakrasamvara Art Topics Outline (new)
Paintings Page (new)
Sculpture Page (new)
Mandala Page (new)

Selected Masterworks:
A Selected Masterworks Page has been created to look at the very best examples of the Chakrasamvara form in painting and sculpture from both an art and aesthetics, i.e. Art History point of view and from a Religious Studies point of view. A chronology page will be added later along with a further analysis of the different forms of the deity, most of which are now represented on the HAR site as central figures or minor figures.

Friday, July 17, 2009

List of Shambhala Kings by Katog Tsewang Norbu

Tsewang Norbu (1698-1755) wrote a long description of the pureland of Shambhala, associated with the Kalachakra Tantra, along with a short text listing the name of each of the seven Dharma Kings and the following twenty-five Vidyadharas, their number in the series, and from which bodhisattva or deity they are an emanation.

In general, these Shambhala Kings are commonly depicted in art either in a single composition containing all thirty-two figures or in sets of paintings with one figure, three, four, or eight figures per composition. Their are also two different traditions, or ways, to depict the Shambhala Kings: [1] Royal Appearance and [2] Deity Appearance.

The short text of Tsewang Norbu listing the names and emanation sources for all of the kings of the Deity Appearance system is essential for understanding the differences between the two systems and their differing depictions of the kings.

As time allows all of the Shambhala King paintings on HAR, from the various Palpung Composition sets, will be identified and listed (linked) next to the appropriate name in the list of Tsewang Norbu.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Five Most Powerful Tools

With the ever increasing number of art collections, museums, and image objects added to the HAR website it actually becomes more and more challenging to find the specific objects looked for along with relevant related information. These five tools are the most important on HAR for finding specific objects. To understand how objects relate to each other, and to general subjects or concepts, then look to the extensive Outline Pages.

Five Most Powerful Tools Outline Page
1. Search
2. Indices
3. Glossaries
4. Bibliographies
5. Links

Monday, July 6, 2009

HAR Temporarily Down, Monday July 6th, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The Himalayan Art Resources website will be down for a short period of time Monday afternoon, July 6th between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. The web technicians are updating certain key components of the database architecture to improve the search, cataloguing and speed of the site.

Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Images from the Asian Art Museum

Fourteen new images of paintings from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco have been uploaded to the HAR site. Write-ups accompany most if not all of the images. Some Asian Art entries in the database have write-ups but no images as yet. In those cases we are using a place card holder thumbnail image.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


After talking about it for nearly two years the HAR Team finally has their first linked image map of the Central Tibetan region of U-Tsang. This is the first go at making clickable geographic image maps. We hope to improve them with practice and add more links as we acquire new images of important art and architectural locations in Tibet and the other Himalayan art regions.

We have chosen the linked locations because those are the locations that we currently have images for. As we acquire new images we will add new locations to the maps. The next map will be of Lhasa City and the immediate surroundings followed by West Tibet with its extensive temple murals and cave complexes.

Maps Index:
Map of U-Tsang
Map of Lhasa Region
Map of Samye & Tsetang Region
Map of Tsang Region