Shakyamuni Buddha with His Disciples and Mahakala
MediumPigments, gilding on sized cloth
DimensionsImage : 2 5/8 x 2 1/8 in. (6.67 x 5.4 cm)
Work : 2 3/4 x 2 1/4 x 1/2 in. (6.99 x 5.72 x 1.27 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
The “Three Jewels of Buddhism” are the Buddha (Shakyamuni), the Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (the community of monks, nuns and lay people who follow the Buddha’s teachings). This painting of Shakyamuni Buddha accompanied by his disciples and the fearsome dharma-protector Mahakala is a symbolic representation of the Three Jewels.
Most Mongolian devotional paintings were produced by artistic workshops associated with major temple complexes. These workshops were staffed by artists possessing a wide range of skill levels, from masters to apprentices. Although the workshops undoubtedly strove to maintain an even level of production, inevitably some paintings were artistically better than others. A painting’s artistic quality had no impact on its spiritual effectiveness, however, and even fairly crude paintings could be used for devotional purposes, as long as the images were sincerely made and followed the correct iconographic and iconometric requirements.