Friday, October 30, 2009

The Chinese Government & Google Blogs

The Chinese Government and Google have a dispute over which news feeds Google provides over its internet Blog service. Subsequently Google Blogs, which the HAR website uses, are blocked in China.

There are too many people in China using the HAR site to have it hobbled by international politics. The HAR team has already come up with some ideas for changing the blog. One suggestion was to move to a Coldfusion blog application, completely stable and free. The only problem is we have to implement it. It is not exactly right out of the box. We will look at several different options before deciding on a remedy. This blog accessibility problem will be a priority for the next few weeks.

Wutaishan Mountain: Unidentified Manjushri Forms

There are two examples given below of unidentified forms of Manjushri. These are only two of many unidentified forms found on Wutaishan Mountain.

The first found in the Golden Temple, frequented by Chogyal Pagpa in the 13th century, has one face and two hands and rides atop a lion. What is unique about the form is the right hand holding an utpala stem and the left extended across the left knee with the left leg pendant.

The second form, found in a building in front and below the Golden Temple, is a very large sculpture with eleven faces and one thousand hands, seated in a Western style atop a lion. Is there a Sanskrit or a Tibetan source text for these two unique forms of Manjushri? Are the forms possibly of a Chinese origin and inspiration?

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Rare Form of Padmasambhava

Padmasambhava as Guru Dupung Zilnon (gu ru bdud dpung zil gnon) is possibly related to the Vajrakilaya practices of Longchenpa called Purba Dupung Zilnon (phurba bdud dpung zil gnon). Note the unique form of the posture with the right hand holding a vajra extended outward to the side in a gesture of blessing above the heads of demons. The left hand holds a purba peg extended outward to the side and pointing downward subduing the demons below.

This extremely fine painting can be dated stylistically to the early 19th century and created in a Kham-dri style similar to the Khampa Gar painters of that time. It is not clear from the inscription on the back of the brocade (top), or the iconographic subject on the front, if the painting is a single composition or part of a related series (set) of paintings. Although one other painting with a different iconographic subject but the same stylistic elements, brush strokes and colour palette has been identified.

Milarepa Life Story Paintings

Two more Milarepa life story paintings have come to light. These two paintings belong to the same set as HAR #66417 and are part of a nineteen painting set. The composition of these paintings is also the same as the famous Stockholm nineteen painting set. The two new images will be uploaded to the HAR site in the near future along with detail images of the inscriptions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Milarepa: Another Image

The image here is a detail from a Drugpa Kagyu composition with Naropa as the large central figure and Marpa Chokyi Lodro in front. To the right side is a very small figure of Milarepa seated on a deerskin appearing to float on the water.

What is interesting about the form is the over-all relaxed posture, white clothing wrapped fully around the body and the right knee slightly raised with feet visible.

Is this Milarepa depiction related to, or derivative of, the Milarepa forms posted in previous news entries?

See the Two Previous Posts:
- Four Milarepa Paintings
- Four Milarepa Paintings and One Sculpture

Densatil Sculpture and the Capital Museum, Beijing, China

The Capital Museum houses one of the best collections of Densatil sculptures available. Densatil sculptures originate generally from the Densatil Monastery (or surrounding monasteries where the artists also worked) founded by Pagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo, one of the four principal students of Gampopa, in turn the student of Milarepa. Many of these sculptures, now in museums spread around the world, were used to decorate the stupa, or reliquary, containing the mortal remains of Pagmodrupa.

Densatil Resources:
Capital Museum, Beijing, China - website
Capital Museum sculpture on the HAR site
Densatil Page, HAR site
Beijing Quick Guide Outline

Golden Buddhas from Tibet, Reconstruction of the Fa├žade of a Stupa from Densathil
History of the Drigung Kagyu with reference to Densatil

Densatil Images:
Images 1
Images 2
Images 3
Images 4

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Exhibition: The Path of Buddha

The Path of Buddha: Tokyo National Museum, Friday, July 27, 2007 - Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"This display traces the development of Buddhist statues from Gandhara (Ancient India), China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan to provide insights about how Buddhist beliefs and statues developed in each region.

Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings, known as dharma, of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in India around the 5th century B.C. He attained "Enlightenment" and became Shakyamuni Buddha when he was 35, and spent the rest of his life teaching his insights to others. After his death, his followers continued to practice and spread his teachings. Following his cremation, the Buddha's ashes and relics, known as sharira, were deposited in stupas, originally mound-like structures. Buddhist art developed when stupas were decorated with reliefs that depicted stories of Buddha and other designs.

Initially, Buddha was not presented as a human figure. This changed around the 1st century A.D. and Buddhists began to worship the statues. Over time, Buddhism spread to other areas, where statues were crafted and worshiped in various forms." (Text from Tokyo National Museum website).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Forms of Arapachana Manjushri

There are four basic forms of Manjushri that are either called Arapachana by name or use the Arapachana syllables as the principal mantra for the deity. The first (1) is Arapachana, orange in colour, sometimes white. He holds a sword in the right hand and the stem of an utpala flower supporting the Prajnaparamita text in the left. The second (2) form is Manjushri associated with a famous Sanskrit praise, orange in colour. The third (3) form is Arapachana, white in colour, sometimes orange, with the two hands holding the stems of two utpala flowers supporting a sword and text. The fourth (4), Vidyadhara Pitika (not shown here), is similar to the second form except white in colour and with the left leg pendant.

All forms of Arapachana Manjushri are peaceful in appearance. There are also many other forms of Manjushri that are peaceful but do not use the Name Arapachana or the arapachana mantra. Also, not all forms of Manjushri are peaceful. The principal examples of semi-wrathful and wrathful appearance are Black Manjushri as semi and then the many forms of Vajrabhairava, Krishna Yamari, Rakta Yamari and Manjushri Nagaraksha.

On the illustrated example page provided above there are four additional images of Manjushri related to Arapachana. These are found on a mandala painting of Vagishvari Dharmadhatu. The painting depicts twenty-three peaceful forms of Manjushri, three wrathful forms known as Yamari, and three mandalas in total.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Daewon-Sa Tibetan Museum in Korea

The HAR site lists three museums in Korea that have collections of Himalayan and Tibetan style art. Several of these museums such as the Daewon-Sa and the Hahn Cultural Foundation specialize in Himalayan style art. It is rumoured that there are possibly an additional two more museums of Himalayan art in Korea. These other museums, like the one introduced here, are thought to be museums attached to Buddhist Temples, unlike the Hahn Collection or the National Museum of Korea.

"The Little Tibet in Korea, Daewon-Sa Tibetan Museum. Tibetan Museum is built to introduce spiritual culture and art and to activate the spiritual exchange between Korea and Tibet. The museum is built in the Tibetan Temple style."

See a listing of other Korean and Asian Museums.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Four Traditional Ways of Classifying the Schools of Tibetan Buddhism

The religious traditions, schools and lineages of Tibetan Buddhism can be very confusing with a seemingly endless number of Tibetan names and complex inter-relationships. The new page outlining the Four Traditional Ways of Classifying the Schools of Tibetan Buddhism lists the four systems and the traditions, or sub-traditions, included in each. Other Buddhist traditions such as Mongolian Buddhism and the Himalayan Buddhism of Bhutan are also included on the page but separate from the four traditional forms of classification. More sub-traditions will be added, along with dates, and links to the available art on the HAR site.

1. Nyingma & Sarma: Nyingma means old or ancient. Sarma means new. The earliest forms of Buddhism in Tibet are collectively known as Nyingma. With the introduction of new forms of Buddhism from India and Kashmir after the 11th century the old forms took on the name Nyingma and the new forms were called Sarma. The principal new forms (Sarma) are the Kadampa, Sakya, Dagpo Kagyu, Shangpa Kagyu and Jonang, followed later by the Gelug.

2. The classification of the Four [Principal] Schools of Tibetan Buddhism is the most commonly known and used although probably the least useful in understanding the complexity of the traditions especially in understanding the religious context of the art on the HAR site. The Four Schools are the (1) Nyingma, (2) Sakya, (3) Kagyu and (4) Gelug. The Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century is recorded as using this terminology to list the principal Buddhist Traditions of Tibet. He describes them as the four schools of Buddhism [cho lug] and then the Bon Religion [Bon lug]. This written statement of the Fifth Dalai Lama has come to be misconstrued in recent times and taken to mean that there are five schools of Tibetan Buddhism, which are the four principal schools and then Bon as the fifth school. This is rejected by followers of the Bon Religion that maintain there are two religions of Tibet, (1) Bon which came first and (2) Buddhism which came after. For the Bon there is no discussion of five schools - it is a Buddhist imposition.

3. Red Hat & Yellow Hat is a late classification that is most commonly used in Mongolia and China and rarely in Tibet or the Tibetan cultural regions of the Himalayas. Yellow Hat refers specifically to the Gelug School dominant in the two areas of Mongolia and China after the 17th century. Red Hat refers collectively to all of the Buddhist Schools that are not Gelug. Tibetan followers of the Gelug Tradition referred to themselves as the Yellow Hat Tradition, this is found in Tibetan Gelug writings and liturgical verses, but it is unclear when this classification began and when the other non-Gelug traditions became the Red Hat Tradition. According to this system the most important and iconic of the 'Red Hat' Lamas is Padmasambhava. The principal 'Yellow Hat' lama is Je Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelug Tradition.

4. The Eight Chariots of Spiritual Accomplishment is another late classification popularized by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye in the 19th century. This system lists what Kongtrul promotes as the most significant practice traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. The system of classification is not widely used or promoted outside of the Rime movement of the 19th century, but it does however give insight into what the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu Lamas of the Rime Movement considered to be of significant importance.

The Eight Chariots are:
(1) Nyingma
(2) Kadampa Mind Training Precepts
(3) Margapala (Tibetan: Lamdre. The Path Together with the Result)
(4) Dagpo Kagyu Mahamudra Tradition
(5) Six Dharmas of Niguma
(6) Zhije & Cho
(7) Six Branches, Kalachakra
(8) Orgyan Nyendrub

Religious Traditions Pages & Outlines:
Traditions & Schools Index
Religious Traditions of Tibet Outline
Explanation of Four Traditional Ways of Classifying the Schools of Tibetan Buddhism
Four Traditional Ways of Classifying the Schools of Tibetan Buddhism
Religious Traditions Navigation Page for Outlines

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Arhat Resource Page

Whenever working with arhat paintings or sculpture it is always necessary to refer to a list of names and figural images to help with identification. This can be done in several ways, either by simply referring to a Tibetan text such as the Praise of the Sixteen Arhats where each arhat is named and described, or by looking at a single arhat painting, or set of arhat paintings, where the iconography is clear and the names are written beneath each figure, or to look at a set of block print images that have both the images and names for each of the arhats. These are the general approaches to identifying arhat figures when there are no identifying inscriptions on the works themselves.

I hesitate to mention one other approach, but shall do so anyway. An alternate approach is to have memorized all of the arhat names in both Tibetan and Sanskrit and know all of the depictions and attributes for each of the sixteen arhat figures plus knowing the several different systems, or variations, for visually depicting the arhats. The Arhat Resource Page is not necessary with this approach to identifying arhats.

For basic arhat identification the Arhat Resource Page presents first the individual block print images from the Three Hundred Icons published by Raghu Vira and Lokesh Chandra. These images are especially valuable because they provide both the Tibetan name and the Sanskrit name for each of the arhats. Following these essential tools for the identification of arhats are the important Arhat Pages and topics both on the HAR site and as external resources. Navigation is provided as screen capture images along with links.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Manjushri Outline Page Updated

The Manjushri Outline page has been updated and split into two pages. The first is now Art Topics and the second is Iconographic Forms of the deity. More work needs to be done. There are so many different types of Manjushri that it is really a major project in itself just to list them all and note the texts and compendiums that they are found in.

Manjushri Art Topics
Manjushri Iconographic Forms
Manjushri Tantra Classes
Arapachana Manjushri: Explanation of Form

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hevajra: Explanation of Form

Hevajra is one of the more common complex deities depicted in art. The form with eight faces and sixteen hands is the most common form of this deity. However, he can have as few as one face and two hands, hold only weapons and be white, red, yellow or green in colour. Hevajra can also be paired with a consort other than Nairatmya. He can also appear with no consort at all. The forms of Hevajra are described in the Hevajra Tantra of Two Sections (Root Tantra) and the Samputa explanatory Tantra.

Hevajra: Explanation of Form