About the Artwork

Ushnishavijaya, meaning the “Victorious one (Skt. vijaya) with a Crown Protuberance (Skt. usnisa)”, is a female long-life deity who manifests as an embodiment of enlightenment from the protuberance or usnisa that crowns the Buddha's head. Her main function is to bestow the realization of immortality by eliminating the hindrances to a long life, and purifying the defilements of body, speech and mind. She is known in Tibetan as Tsugtor Namgyalma (Tib. gtsug gtor rnam rgyal ma), and along with Amitayus and White Tara is one of the great three longevity deities who commonly appear in a trinity. Printed prayers and small clay images (Tib. tsha-tsha) of this goddess, either alone or in her trinity, are commonly enshrined inside Buddhist stupas.

In this beautiful composition she appears in her form as Nine-deity Ushnishavijaya enshrined within the central dome aperture of a long life stupa, and is flanked by her two peaceful bodhisattva attendants, white Avalokiteshvara and blue Vajrapani. Surrounding her in the cardinal directions are the four blue wrathful forms of Acala, Takkiraja, Niladanda, and Mahabala, and above Ushnishavijaya are two cloud-borne gods who pour down a rain of nectar.

She is beautiful, attractive and youthful, with three faces and eight arms. Her central face is white like crystal with a semi-wrathful expression and a sensually gaping mouth that reveals her twisting tongue and sharp canine teeth. Her right face is golden-yellow with a blissfully peaceful expression. Her left face is blue like an utpala lotus flower, with a wrathful expression, bulging red eyes, fiery facial hair, and a gaping mouth that reveals her four sharp fangs and twisting tongue. Each of her faces has three eyes, and are crowned with jeweled tiaras and a double top-knot.

The four wrathful deities that surround Usnisavijaya are identical in appearance, except for the attributes they hold. They are blue-black in color, with three round eyes, upward-blazing hair, and are adorned with golden ornaments, a serpent as a sacred thread, a tiger-skin loincloth, and a long billowing green silk scarf. They all stand in pratyalidha posture as they lean towards the right upon a golden sun disc and pink lotus within their blazing aura of awareness fire. They each make the threatening 'raised forefinger' or tarjani gesture with their left hands held in front of their hearts.

Standing amidst clouds on either side of the golden spire that crowns the dome aperture of Usnisavijaya's stupa are two young gods, their beautiful white forms adorned with jeweled ornaments and divine silks. They each hold a jeweled gold flask filled with pure water, which they pour down from the heavens as an ambrosial rain of immortal nectar.

© text by Robert Beer

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PEM Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


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