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86 of 10,402

Western Tibet, Guge

Illuminated cover and frontispiece from a Prajnaparamita manuscript

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Object Details

Culture

Western Tibet, Guge

Date

late 15th century

Medium

Opaque watercolors and gold on paper with silk brocade covering

Dimensions

Part a (open): 14 1/4 × 28 inches (36.2 × 71.1 cm)
Part a (sheet): 7 5/8 × 28 inches (19.4 × 71.1 cm)
Part b (sheet): 7 5/16 × 27 1/16 inches (18.6 × 68.7 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the George and Mary Rockwell Fund

Object
Number

2006.028 a,b

Named for the female personification of the Perfection of Wisdom, the Prajnaparamita sutras are Maha(…)

Named for the female personification of the Perfection of Wisdom, the Prajnaparamita sutras are Mahayana Buddhism’s primary scriptures, conveying the teachings necessary for becoming a bodhisattva and achieving enlightenment. The main figures on the cover displayed here are the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, at the left, shown at the moment of his enlightenment, and the blue-skinned Vajradhara, at right. Vajradhara embodies all the Buddhist teachings and is shown crossing his hands in which he holds the vajra and the bell, symbolizing the perfect union of wisdom and compassion. The frontispiece depicts the story of Sadaprarudita’s search for enlightenment. Instructed in a vision to go to the Gandhavati paradise of the bodhisattva Arya Dharma, Sadaprarudita is distraught that he has no gift to bring. He offers his own body to the god Indra, who has disguised himself as a young man, when a merchant’s daughter sees Sadaprarudita and is impressed by his self-sacrifice. Indra miraculously restores Sadaprarudita’s body and the merchant’s daughter vows to assist him in his journey. She persuades her parents to join them in a procession of five hundred carriages. The procession is shown here proceeding to the Gandhavati paradise at the left. (“Highlights from the Collection: 45 Years at the Johnson,” curated by Stephanie Wiles and presented at the Johnson Museum January 27–July 22, 2018)

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