About the Artwork

This painting of Ratnasambhava is a copy of a 13th century Pala or Newar thangka, which is now housed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Ratnasambhava (Tib. Rin-chen 'bYung-gnas), the 'Jewel-born', is one of the 'Five Buddhas', who presides as the 'Lord of the ratna or Jewel Family' that is identified with the south, the color yellow, the element of earth, and the aggregate of feeling. His attribute is a jewel, his vehicle or throne is a horse, his gesture is the boon-granting varada-mudra of generosity, and his wisdom aspect represents the natural purity of pride transmuted into the pristine awareness of equality or sameness.

Here Ratnasambhava appears in the sambhogakaya aspect of a crowned Buddha. He is peaceful, beautiful, radiant and yellow in color, and he sits in vajra-posture upon a moon disc, multicolored lotus and jeweled horse-throne within his southern paradise realm of Shrimat, the 'glorious'. He is endowed with the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks of an enlightened being, and wears the eight jewel ornaments and five silk garments of a bodhisattva, and his beautiful silk dhoti or loincloth is decorated with roundels containing deer and swan motifs.

Surrounding Ratnasambhava in the main central area of this painting are the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, who are also known as the 'Eight Close Sons'. Flanking Ratnasambhava to his right and left are the standing forms of orange Manjughosha (Manjushri), and white Nivarna-vishkambhin. Directly above Manjughosha is the seated form of white Avalokiteshvara, and above again appears blue Samantabhadra, with red Kshitigarbha appearing at his side. And directly above the standing form of white Nivarna-vishkambin is the seated form of green Akashagarbha holding a vishva-vajra, and above again appears yellow Maitreya, with blue Vajrapani appearing at his side. Each of these eight bodhisattvas is adorned with divine silk garments and the eight jewel-ornaments. The two standing bodhisattvas hold the stems of lotuses in both of their hands, while the other six bodhisattvas are seated and each holds the stem of a single lotus.

© text by Robert Beer

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