MediumPigments, gilding on sized cloth
DimensionsWork : 5 1/8 x 4 1/2 x 5/8 in. (13.02 x 11.43 x 1.59 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
Amitabha Buddha is one of the five Celestial Buddhas of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. He is the embodiment of compassion and responds to the prayers of people in distress from his home in the heavenly Western Paradise (Sukhāvatī). Amitabha’s physical attributes are similar to those of Shakyamuni: he sits cross-legged on a lotus throne wearing a monk’s robes and holding an alms bowl to signify his renunciation of worldly ways; his head is crowned with a mystical top-knot (ushnisha) to signify his great wisdom; his earlobes are elongated to signify his ability to hear the pleas of those in distress; and his hands and feet are marked with wheel symbols to signify his complete embodiment of Shakyamuni’s teachings. The primary visual characteristic that distinguishes Amitabha Buddha from Shakyamuni is his deep red skin color. The surface of this painting shows patchy brown stains from an adhesive that was once used to secure it inside a wooden or metal frame.