Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Wutai shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain
Karl Debreczeny, Rubin Museum of Art
JIATS, no. 6 (December 2011), THL #T5714, pp. 1-133
Section 9 of 9 (pp. 49-94)

“Wutai shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain” Catalog

The Mountain

Cat. 1: Panoramic Map of Wutai shan

ṣerigün tungγalaγ aγula-yin oron-u jokiyal

Cifu si (慈福寺) Wutai shan, China, dated 1846. Painted and colored woodblock print; 53.25" h. x 73.25" w. x 2.375" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2004.29.1 (HAR 65371).

This panoramic view of the sacred mountain Wutai shan (“Five-Terrace Mountain”) is a six- foot-wide woodblock print on cloth that has been hand colored. There are eleven surviving prints of this map that have been identified around the world.125 The map was made on Wutai shan in 1846 by a Mongolian monk at a local Mongolian monastery, Cifu si (Fig. 4, no. 21). Construction of Cifu si was completed in 1829; therefore, this map was made shortly after the monastery was founded, and, as Cifu si is placed near the center of the image, it literally puts this new temple on the map, establishing it in a position of authority.126 Cifu si became the main lodging for Mongolian monks visiting the mountain.

This map contains more than 130 sites of interest to the pilgrims who ventured to Mount Wutai (see Fig. 4). These sites are labeled with Chinese and Tibetan inscriptions, including Buddhist monasteries, Taoist temples, villages, sacred objects, and locations of events, both historic and miraculous. Winding paths with tiny travelers link one temple to another, suggesting possible itineraries of pilgrimage. Pilgrims traveled this sacred mountain to see divine visions, which took the form of miraculous light and cloud formations, a ubiquitous presence on this map. The most prominent monastery, which appears much larger than the others (Fig. 4, no. 14) is Bodhisattva Peak Monastery (Pusa ding).

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Tāranātha emanating out of a stūpa. Detail of 1846 Wutai shan map (Fig. 4, no. 62 detail).

A masked dance procession, the focus of ritual activity on the mountain, leads from the monastery down the center of the map. This temple was converted into a Manchu imperial establishment shortly after the Qing dynasty was founded in the mid-seventeenth century, denoted by its bright yellow roof.

The content of these sites and events marked on the map are a complex historical layering of Chinese, Tibetan, Mongol and Manchu involvement on the mountain. This layering of identities includes some of the earliest Chinese monasteries associated with the cult of Mañjuśrī on the mountain, such as Foguang si (Fig. 4, no. 1 – curiously painted over in the RMA printing) founded in the sixth century; the twelfth-century tantric adept PadampaPha dam pa (Fig. 4, no. 13) who Tibetans regard as one of the earliest direct links between their tradition and the mountain; Tāranātha (Fig. 4, no. 62), root of the first Mongol incarnation lineage, the Jetsün DampaRje btsun dam pa, seen emanating out of his stūpa wearing the black-lobed hat of that preeminent office, underscoring his adopted Mongolian identity in his role as Bogda Gegen; and the Kangxi emperor (ruled 1662-1722) – the first Manchu emperor to be overtly declared Mañjuśrī incarnate – is depicted pacifying the region by shooting a tiger (Fig. 4, no. 64).127

The Mongols were militant followers of the GelukpaDge lugs pa, the monastic order of the Dalai Lama, and this map asserts not only a Tibetan Buddhist religious identity to Wutai shan, but more specifically a GelukpaDge lugs pa identity. The founder of the GelukpaDge lugs pa, TsongkhapaTsong kha pa, who was considered a Tibetan emanation of Mañjuśrī, can be found everywhere on the map – such as visions of him emanating on clouds from Wutai shan’s five peaks. Thus this map declares both an ethnic and sectarian identity.

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Figure 38. 1846 Wutai shan map, top left detail. Rubin Museum of Art Collection.

The differences between various printings of this map around the world have been well studied by Chou,128 revealing various interpretive strategies employed by the colorists who altered the content of several stories. Some other important clues can also be found in the coloring of the print in the top left corner of the map (Fig. 38) which suggests alternate interpretations as to the identity of the artist. For instance, the palette of the coloring of this print in the Rubin Museum of Art, with its heavy layers of green and blue, is consistent with Tibetan painting in the sman bris style as it traveled to Mongolia.129 This, coupled with the covering over of the dated Chinese colophon, and the miss-spelling of such a simple word as “mountain” in the Tibetan title of the work, both at top left, all point to a Mongolian artist as the colorist.130

In conjunction with this exhibition a digital scan of this woodblock map of Wutai shan allows the viewer to explore the rich detail contained within this historic document.131 A group of approximately forty sites of particular historic importance have been selected out for special attention, providing the viewer with descriptions drawn primarily from Chinese gazetteers and Tibetan pilgrimage guides of Wutai shan, photographs of the actual sites being represented, and related artwork in the exhibition:


The content of the trilingual dedicatory inscriptions at the bottom of the map, translated below, vary depending on their audiences. For instance the second part of the Chinese inscription is of particular interest, as Chou has observed, it instructs the viewer on the image’s efficacy and uses, which does not appear in the Tibetan or Mongolian texts. This marks the Chinese as somewhat outside the tradition by the maker of the 1846 map, even though the visual strategy of depicting Wutai shan and its miraculous geography is a Chinese convention that goes back at least a millennium.

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Trilingual Dedicatory Inscriptions

i. Tibetan


༄༅། །དུས་གསུམ་རྒྱལ་ཀུན་ཀུན་ནས་བསྔགས་པའི་ཁམས། །ཁམས་གསུམ་བར་སྣང་སྣང་བྱེད་འོད་འཕྲོས་སྐུ། །སྐུ་གསུམ་ གཟུགས་སྟོན་སྟོན་པ་འཇམ་དཔལ་མཆོག །མཆོག་གསུམ་རང་ཉིད་ཉིད་དུ་གྱུར་བར་འདུད། །ཕལ་པོ་ཆེའི་མདོ་ལས། །འདི་ནས་བྱང་ཤར་མཚམས་གྱི་གནས་ཤིག་ན། །རི་བོ་དྭངས་བསིལ་ཞེས་བྱའི་གནས་ཡོད་དེ། །སྔོན་ཆད་རྒྱལ་སྲས་མང་པོ་དེ་ན་བཞུགས། །ད་ལྟ་རྒྱལ་སྲས་འཕགས་པ་འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱིས། །འཁོར་གྱི་བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་པ་ཁྲི་ཕྲག་བཅས། །དེ་དུ་བཞུགས་ནས་དམ་པའི་ཆོས་ཀྱང་གསུངས། །ཞེས་པ་དང་་་། ཡང་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་སྙིང་བོའི་གཟུངས་ལས། །རྒྱལ་བོ་ཀྱིན་ཀང་མེ་ཀྱི་ལ། །བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཀྱིས་བཀའ་སྩལ་པ། །ང་མྱ་ངན་ལས་འདས་པའི་འོག་ཏུ་འཛམ་བུ་གླིང་གི་བྱང་ཤར་གྱི་མཚམས་སུ་་་རི་བོ་རྩེ་ལྔ་ཞེས་པའི་གནས་ཆེན་ཡོད་དེ། །འཇམ་དཔལ་གཞོན་ནུས་དེར་འགྲོ་འཆག་དང་འདུག་གནས་བྱེད་ཅིང་འགྲོ་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་གྱི་དོན་དུ་ཆོས་གསུངས་སོ། །གྲངས་མེད་པའི་ལྷ་ཀླུ་སྡེ་བརྒྱད་འཁོར་དང་བཅས་པ་རྣམས་བསྙེན་བཀུར་བྱེད་ཞེས་པ་ལ་སོགས་པའི་མདོ་རྒྱུད་དུ་མ་ནས་བསྔགས་པའི་གནས་མཆོག་འདི་ཉིད་ཀྱི་བཀོད་པ་མདོར་བསྡུས་ཙམ་བྲིས་པ། །འདི་ལ་་་མཐོང་ཐོས་དྲན་རེག་གི་འབྲེལ་བ་འཐོབ་ཚད་ཚེ་རབས་ཀུན་ཏུ་རྗེ་བཙུན་འཇམ་པའི་དབྱངས་ཀྱིས་རྗེས་སུ་འཛིན་པའི་རྒྱུར་དམིགས་ཏེ། །རི་བོ་རྩེ་་་ལྔའི་བྱམས་དགེ་གླིང་གི་བླ་བྲང་དུ། །དད་ལྡན་སྦྱིན་བདག་་་་ཏཱ་ཁུ་རེའི་རྗེ་བཙུན་དམ་པའི་་་ཞབས་གྲས་་་་སངྒའི་འས་མག་གི་བརྐོས་པ་དགེ་སློང་ལྷུན་གྲུབ་་་ཞེས་བྱ་བས་རྒྱུ་ཡོན་སྦྱར་སྟེ་࿑ཏའི་ཆིང་ཏོའུ་ཀྭང་རྒྱལ་བོ་ཁྲི་བཞུགས་ལོ་ ཉེར་དྲུག་པའི་ས་ག་ཟླ་བའི་ཚེས་བཅོ་ལྔའི་ཉིན་པར་སྤར་དུ་བརྐོས་པའོ༎ ࿑ ༎སྐྱབས་མཆོག་འཇམ་དབྱངས་གནས་བཀོད་འདི།

།གང་དང་གང་ལ་མཆོད་བྱས་པ། །དེ་དང་དེ་རུ་མི་མཐུན་ཕྱོགས། །ཞི་ནས་བདེ་སྐྱིད་དར་བར་ཤོག།

༎བཀྲ་ཤིས་པར་གྱུར་ཅིག། ༎ མངྒ་ལཾ༎

Panoramic [Map] of Clear and Cool Mountain132

Homage to this realm (Wutai shan), which all the Buddhas of the Three Times thoroughly praise; to the body radiating light that illuminates the three worlds;133 to the excellent Teacher Mañjuśrī who displays the three Buddha bodies,134 who [page 53] is himself the three jewels (the Buddha, his teachings, and the monastic community).135

Herein is a condensed illustrated arrangement of this supreme place of pilgrimage that many sūtra and tantra praise, such as: The Flower Garland Sūtra says:136 “In a land on the northeastern boarder from here, there is a holy site called ‘Clear and Cool Mountain.’ In former times many bodhisattvas resided there. Nowadays the bodhisattva, the noble Mañjuśrī, resides there, together with a retinue of ten thousand bodhisattvas, and preaches the holy dharma.” Also, the Ratnagarbha-​dhāraṇī Sūtra says: “The Bhagavat proclaimed to Gyelwo Kyinkang MekyiRgyal bo kyin kang me kyi (Vajrapāṇi),137 ‘After I pass away, on the northeastern edge of the Rose Apple Continent, there is a great holy place called ‘Five-Peak Mountain’138 where the youthful Mañjuśrī roams and dwells and preaches the dharma for the sake of all beings. Innumerable [deities of the] eight classes of gods and serpent spirits (nāga), together with their retinues, pay obeisance to him.”

Intending that this [map] be a cause for all who come into contact with it via sight, hearing, and memory in all generations will be cared for by the venerable Mañjuśrī, I, the bhikṣu LhündrupLhun grub, a carver from the Sangga monastic community (ayimag) [of Amurbayas Qulangtu Monastery, Mongolia],139 the senior attendant to the faithful donor, the Jetsün DampaRje btsun dam pa of Da Khüriye (Takhurétā khu re) [Mongolia],140 [page 54] applied resources to this holy map at the teacher’s residence (labrangbla brang) of Jamgé LingByams dge gling Monastery141 of Five-Peak Mountain, on the fifteenth day of the fourth month of the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Great Qing dynasty (1846).

To whom and where ever, the offering of this map of the holy land of the savior Mañjuśrī is made, there and then, may unfavorable conditions be pacified and may happiness flourish. May it be auspicious! Mangalam!142

ii. Chinese


詩曰﹕三世諸佛稱清涼,法照三界及萬方, 文殊變化通凡聖,三寶諸仙即此身,真容久在清涼境人人敬禮無所觀。大華嚴經云,東北方有處名清涼山,從昔以來諸菩薩眾於中止住,現有菩薩名文殊師利,其眷屬諸菩薩眾一萬人,具常在其中而演說法。又寶藏陀羅尼經云,佛告金剛密跡王言,我滅度後於此南瞻部洲東北方,有國名大震那,其中有山,名曰五頂,文殊童子旅行居住,為諸眾生於中說法,及有無量天龍八部圍繞供養,斯言可審矣。此五台一小山圖,未能盡其詳細,四方善士凡朝清涼聖境,及見此山圖,聞講菩薩靈驗妙法者,今生能消一切災難疾病,亨福亨壽,福祿綿長,命終之後,生於有福之地,皆賴菩薩慈化而得也。古大窟圍智宗丹巴佛之徒桑噶阿麻格,名格隆龍住,大發愿心,親手刻造比板,以施四方善士。如有大發頭心,印此山圖者,則功德無量矣。

“Panoramic Map of the Holy Realm Wutai shan”

All Buddhas of the three ages praise the Clear and Cool [Mountain]. The dharma illuminates the three realms and all directions. Mañjuśrī’s transformations reach all ordinary beings and sages. The Three Treasures and all immortals are this very person [Mañjuśrī]. Mañjuśrī’s true countenance has long dwelled in the realm of the Clear and Cool Mountain, where people have paid respect to it without seeing it. The Flower Garland Sūtra (Avataṃsaka Sūtra) says, “In a place northeast of here, there is a certain region called the Cool and Clear Mountains. Many bodhisattvas from olden times have calmly abided in there. Nowadays the holy Mañjuśrī, together with a retinue of ten thousand bodhisattvas, dwells there and preaches the dharma.” In addition, the [Mañjuśrī] Ratnagarbha-​dhāraṇī Sūtra says, “The Buddha said to the Vajra-wielding guardian bodhisattva ‘after I enter nirvana, in the northeastern part of the Jambudvīpa, is a country called the Great China, where there is a holy mountain called the Five Peaks, in the midst of which the youthful Mañjuśrī roams, dwells, and preaches the dharma for the benefit of [page 55] all sentient beings. At that time innumerable gods and the Eight Classes of Beings, together with their retinue, gather around to make offerings.’” You [the viewer] can investigate this for yourself. This little map of Wutai shan cannot possibly exhaust every detail of the mountain. The benefactors from all four directions who make a pilgrimage to the sacred realm of the Clear and Cool Mountain, who see this map of the mountain, and who listen to and recount the spiritual efficacy and wondrous dharma of the bodhisattva, will in this life be free from all calamities and diseases, and enjoy boundless blessings, happiness, and longevity. After this life, they will be reborn in a blessed land. All these [benefits] can be acquired through the bodhisattva’s merciful transformations. Therefore, the disciple of Jetsün DampaRje btsun dam pa of Da Khüriye [Mongolia], the engraver Monk LhündrupLhun grub (Longzhu) from the Sengge Aimag, makes a great vow, to carve this woodblock with his own hands in order to extend [the merit] to the benefactors of the four directions. Should a person make the vow to print this image, they will accumulate immeasurable merit.143

iii. Mongolian

“Composition of the Land of Cool-Clear Mountain”

Om suvasti! I prostrate myself before the land that has been praised by all those [Buddhas] who have vanquished the three times [past, present, and future], the supreme teacher (lamabla ma), Mañjuśrī, who, with the body of one that works to illuminate the brilliant interstices of the Triple World, reveals the form of the Threefold Body, and before the one who assembles [in himself] the essence of the Three Jewels. In the Flower Garland Sūtra (daihuayan jing) it is said that to the northeast of here there is a certain land called Clear-Cool Mountain. Formerly many bodhisattvas resided there. Now the holy Mañjuśrī, together with myriad companion bodhisattvas, abides there preaching the dharma. Also in that dhāraṇī, the Bagavant made the following edict to Jingang miji wang (金剛密跡王, Gyelbo Kyinkang Mekyirgyal bo kyin kang me kyi; Vajrapāṇi): “After attaining Parinirvāṇa, in the northeast interstice of the rose-apple continent there is a place known as the Five Peaks and Passes. There resides the youthful Mañjuśrī. When he preaches the dharma for the benefit of all living beings, innumerable gods and serpent spirits (nāga) of the [page 56] eight classes, together with their retinue, perform rites of offering and respect. [In this way] this place has been eulogized in numerous sūtras and tantras.

The sketching of this map is intended to bring salvation by arresting one’s attachment to every sort of thing that is found as a consequence of seeing, hearing, thinking, and touching. It was engraved and offered by the monk (gelonggelung, gelongdge slong), Lhunrub, a carver of Sangga monastic community [of Amurbayasqulangtu Monastery] and a disciple of the faithful alms-giver, the holy Jebsun Damba of Yeke Kuriye (present day Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia). Happiness!

On the supremely good day, the 15th day of the 4th month of the 26th year [in the reign] of Daoguang [1846] of the Great Qing dynasty.144


Chou, Wen-shing. “Ineffable Paths: Mapping Wutaishan in Qing-Dynasty China.” Art Bulletin 89, no. 1 (March 2007): 108-129.

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Cat. 2: Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje (1717-1786)


China; 18th century. Gilt metal alloy; 17 cm x 12.5 cm x 8.5 cm. Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (85.04.0162).

The ChangjaLcang skya Hutukhtu Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje was the most influential teacher (lamabla ma) of Inner Asia and China in the eighteenth century. From childhood Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje was educated with the Manchu imperial princes, and together they studied Buddhist scripture as well as Chinese, Mongolian, Manchu, and Tibetan languages. This close contact between monk and emperor from such an early age was unprecedented, and it allowed Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje to take a leading role at court. He became the emperor’s religious teacher and trusted political confidant, helping craft a policy toward Tibet and Mongolia that underscored the Manchu inheritance of Qubilai Khan’s realm, both politically and symbolically, through the production of religious art focusing on the image of Mañjuśrī (Fig. 27).

Even Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje’s own incarnation lineage was carefully crafted to reflect that the patron-priest relationship between Qubilai and his Tibetan preceptor Pakpa’Phags pa (Fig. 5) was reborn, quite literally, in Qianlong and himself (see introductory essay above). Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje’s role in the production of Tibetan Buddhist images is particularly interesting in light of their politically symbolic role in the Qing court, and his own function within that same context as an incarnation – a living object of legitimization.

Wutai shan was at the heart of the Mañjuśrī cult in China, and Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje was important in giving the site a Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist identity. He wrote a Tibetan guide to Wutai shan, which actively promoted pilgrimage to Wutai shan among the Mongols and Tibetans. Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje spent thirty-six consecutive summers in meditative retreat at Taming the Ocean Monastery (Zhenhai si) on Wutai shan, until his death there in 1786. He was buried on the mountain (Fig. 4, no. 37; Fig. 29).

It is interesting to note that a characteristic feature, a small lymphoma-like lump on the right side of his jaw, is not included in his official iconography or extent paintings (see Cat. 3, top left corner). It is unusual for the physical defect of a lamabla ma to appear in a portrait at all. It does, however, appear on a number of statues [page 58] like this one, and there is some evidence to suggest that the owner of such an image, likely a member of the imperial court, had a personal relationship with him.


Lipton, Barbara, and Nima Dorjee Ragnubs. Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collections of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, 84-86. Staten Island, NY: The Museum; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Cat. 3: Vajrabhairava (Daweide Jingang, 大威德金刚) Maṇḍala

威羅瓦金剛 (大威德金剛) 壇城圖

China; 18th century. Pigments on cloth; 27.875" h. x 19.25" w. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.52.4 (HAR 65710).

Here the meditational deity Vajrabhairava, a wrathful emanation of the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, is depicted in his celestial palace (maṇḍala).

In the realm of art the Qianlong emperor’s court chaplain, Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje, who appears in the top-left corner of this painting, had a guiding hand in the formation of this imperial Buddhist artistic style of the Qing dynasty that would come to symbolize Manchu rulership (Fig. 27). Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje produced the definitive iconographic guides for artists, established a workshop of tangkathang ka painting in Beijing, and was given oversight in the production of Buddhist images in the imperial workshops.145 This style is recognizable by characteristics such as the pale pastel pink, blue, and green clouds seen here in [page 59] a somewhat muted palette. The landscapes were derived from Tibetan forms that picked up elements of Chinese painting such as the blue-green style in the early Ming, and were by the eighteenth century recycled through a Tibetan filter back to the Chinese court painters. Qing court tangkathang ka remained faithful to the Tibetan iconographic strictures while cleverly working in Chinese auspicious motifs such as clouds in “as you wish” (ruyi, 如意) shapes.

These images were carefully used during the Qianlong emperor’s reign in the Chinese court, which put great emphasis on the power of symbols, to bolster Manchu legitimacy as successors to the Yuan Empire. For instance, below the deity’s palace are arrayed the seven treasures of the universal monarch (Buddhist ruler): the wish-granting jewel, the beautiful queen, the strong elephant, the wheel of the law, the swift horse, the wise minister, and the brave general – all symbols of the sacral king who rules the earth. Encircled offerings floating on clouds, such as the seven treasures and the eight auspicious symbols seen here, are characteristic of these eighteenth and nineteenth century Chinese productions.146


Arising historically from the funerary mounds (caitya) of early Buddhism in India, the stūpa is viewed as a physical representation of the enlightened mind of a Buddha. Thus, the stūpa is also an architectural symbol of wisdom. Above the dome are thirteen gold discs representing the stages of the enlightened mind: from the ten bodhisattva levels to the three stages of a Buddha, all crowned by an ornate parasol, white crescent moon, and golden disc of the sun. A large, stark-white stūpa at the foot of Pusa ding Monastery, called Stupa Grove Monastery (Tayuan si, 塔院寺), dominates the center of the landscape of Wutai shan (Fig. 4, no. 40) and has become an icon of the mountain itself.

Cat. 4: White Stūpa


Tibet; ca. 18th century. Pigments on cloth; 37" h. x 23.25" w. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.25 (HAR 795).

[page 60]

Cat. 5: Large Stūpa


Tibet; 13th century. Copper alloy with inlays of semiprecious stones; 70" h. Rubin Museum of Art. C2004.17.1 (HAR 65335).

Cat. 6: Stūpa


Tibet; 14th century. Metalwork; 27" h. x 10.5" w. x 10.25" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2003.12.2 (HAR 65213).

Cat. 7: Stūpa


Tibet, c. 15th century. Metalwork; 23 cm. Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68461).

[page 61]

Cat. 8: Stūpa


Tibet, 18th century. Metalwork; 8.75" h. x 4.375" w. x 4.375" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.635 (HAR 700057).

Cat. 9: Stūpa


Tibet; ca. 13th/14th century. Copper alloy; 13.875" h. x 6.25" w. x 6.25" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2003.21.1 (HAR 65233).

Dance Masks

At the heart of the procession leading down the steps from the central monastery on Wutai shan, Pusa ding (Fig. 4, no. 14), is a troupe of dancers wearing masks (Fig. 36). These three masks – Mahākāla, Yama, and Deer – were prominent characters in this dramatic performance and all can been seen in this colorful and lively procession, which is the center of ritual activity on the map.

The Tibetan dance (chamcham) dance was introduced to Wutai shan in the seventeenth century, when the mountain took on an increasingly Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist identity. Typically this dance was performed on Wutai shan on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the sixth month of the lunar calendar (which typically falls in July) as part of a festival which marks the culmination of [page 62] a month-long assembly for worship and Buddhist teachings.147 Mongolian monks from monasteries on Wutai shan such as Yongquan Monastery (Fig. 4, no. 33) would assemble at Pusa ding Monastery (Fig. 4, no. 14) for the dance ritual, which was followed by a grand procession, such as the one depicted here, leading from the gate of Pusa ding Monastery passing through Guangzong si (Fig. 4, no. 17), Yuanzhao si (Fig. 4, no. 66), Rāhula Temple (Fig. 4, no. 41), Shifang Hall (Fig. 4, no. 67), and ending at the Cave of Sudhana (Fig. 4, no. 69).148 Each time they reached a monastery they recited sūtras, chant mantras, and performed. The procession was lead by an image and the high lamabla ma of Wutai shan.

The small icon being paraded in a palanquin in the procession depicted in the map appears to be Maitreya, another of the great bodhisattvas, suggesting that this is indeed the Future Buddha (maitreya) Festival.149 First established in Tibet in 1409 by the founder of the Gelukdge lugs monastic order, TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419), the Maitreya Festival was then brought to Mongolia in 1657 by the first Mongolian incarnation, the Jetsün DampaRje btsun dam pa Zanabazar where it became extremely popular. Zanabazar himself visited Wutai shan in 1695 in the company of the Kangxi emperor (and may have something to do with its establishment on Wutai as well).150 The choice of depicting this particular festival as the ritual center of the map reinforces an attempt by its maker to assert a Mongolian GelukDge lugs ethnic sectarian identity to the site. The figures carrying the Maitreya sculpture on the map wear yellow robes with orange trim, which Tuttle identifies as the color coding used as an ethnic marker of Chinese practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, suggesting a strong Chinese participation in these rituals as well.

[page 63]

Cat. 10: Deer Mask


Mongolia; 19th-20th century. Papier-mâché; 19.25" h. x 15.5" w. x 14" d. C2006.54.2 (HAR 65723).

Cat. 11: Bull-Head Yama Lord of Death Mask

གཤིན་རྗེ་ཆོས་རྒྱལ། Choijil Erlig qagan

Mongolia; 20th century. Papier-mâché; 21" h. x 14.75" w. x 10.5" d. C2006.52.10 (HAR 65716).

Cat. 12: Mahākāla Mask


Mongolia; 19th-20th century. Papier-mâché; 9" h. x 14" w. x 17.5" d. C2006.55.1 (HAR 65721).

[page 64]

Ritual Life

Cat. 13: Buddha Footprints


Pusa ding Monastery, Wutai shan, China; 17th century (ca. 1659-1668). Woodblock with pigments on cloth; 22.5" h. x 17.5" w. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.438 (HAR 894).

This woodblock print would have been a relatively affordable image that a Mongol might have brought back as a souvenir from his pilgrimage to Wutai shan. From the Tibetan text we know that the original woodblock for this image was carved at Pusa ding Monastery (map no. 14). From the Chinese text we learn that the imperially appointed overseer of Wutai shan, the great teacher Ngawang LozangNgag dbang blo bzang (Awang Laozang, 阿王老藏, 1601-1687), donated the money to paint and publish this image. This famous and important Mongolian monk from one of Beijing’s most prominent Tibetan Buddhist monasteries was both Pusa ding’s abbot and manager of Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist affairs at Wutai shan. He held this office from 1659 to 1668, allowing us to closely date the carving of the original woodblock to the early second half of the seventeenth century.

The Tibetan colophon which runs along the bottom of this piece reads:

These footprints are the footprints of the Bhagavān (the Buddha) at the time of his nirvāṇa. Having been brought from India to Five-Peak Mountain, [this image] was carved on an auspicious day at Pusa ding. May it be auspicious!151

These two woodblock prints were likely based on the “Buddha Footprint Stele” (Fozu bei, 佛足碑) dated to 1582 (Ming Wanli renwu qiu, si seng you’an tu ke shi [明萬歷壬午秋,寺僧又按图刻石]) that once sat to the left of the Great White Stūpa at Wutai shan (Fig. 4, no. 40), which contains a longer explanatory inscription recorded in the local gazetteer, the Record of Clear and Cool Mountain.152 The [page 65] Chinese text between the footprints on this object appears to be a condensed version of that same text, which reads:

According to the Record of Travels to Western Lands (Xiyu ji, 西域記):153 “In a temple of the city of Pāṭaliputra, in the [ancient Indian] Kingdom of Magadha there is a great stone, where the Tathāgata Śākyamuni tread, a pair footprints appear to remain, one foot (chi) eight inches (cun) long and six inches wide, both [adorned] with thousand-spoke wheel sign,154 on all ten toes appear to flower swastika,155 and the shape of the treasure vase, fish, and sword.156 The Tathāgata of the past traveled to Kuśinagara City,157 prepared to show/demonstrate nirvāṇa (death), looked back [to Magadha and stamped his foot on] this stone, and told Ānanda saying: “I, now at the very end [of my life], leave behind this footprint, [in order to] teach sentient beings of the latter days of this Buddha-kalpa (the age of the decline of the dharma). For those who are able to see [it will generate great] faith. To those who supply worship and make offerings: it will end the suffering [page 66] of inconceivable cycles of life and death (saṃsāra), they will be constantly [re-] born as men and gods in the favorable stages (of rebirth), they will have happiness and prolonged life, they will be far from all evil deeds, and they will always obtain good fortune.” [From] Dharma Master Xuan Zang’s Travels to Western Lands [this image and writing] were requested to be engraved in stone and offerings were made. The imperially appointed Overseer of Wutai shan, the great lamabla ma, Ngawang LozangNgag dbang blo bzang (1601-1687) donated money to paint and publish it.158


Selig-Brown, Kathryn. Eternal Presence: Handprints and Footprints in Buddhist Art. Katonah Museum of Art, 2004, 64.

Cat. 14: Buddha Footprints


Tibet or Mongolia; 19th century. Pigments on cloth; 40.75" h. x 30.375" w. x 2.25" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2003.37.1 (HAR 65259).
Figure 39. “The Spirit-Likeness of the Tathagata Sakyamuni’s Feet” Stele. (Shijia rulai shuang ji ling xiang tu 釋迦如來雙跡靈相圖). Ciyun si 慈雲寺, Qinglong Mountain, Henan Province.

The Buddha’s footprints were akin to a touch relic, a portable form of transmitted blessing, which could stand in for the presence of the absent Buddha. According to the Chinese inscription on the nearly identical footprint image (see Cat no. 13), these were modeled on stone Buddha footprints brought back to China from the ancient Indian Kingdom of Magadha by the renowned Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang in the seventh century. The Buddha’s footprints were often carved on stone tablets in front of Chinese temples and appear at several places on the map of Wutai shan along pilgrimage pathways.

[page 67]

Other surviving examples of such footprint stele can be found in temples and monasteries throughout China such as at Ciyun si (慈雲寺) on Qinglong Mountain (Qinglong shan, 青龍山) in Henan Province (河南; see Fig. 39); a stele at Shaolin Temple (Shaolin si, 少林寺) dated to the Mongol Yuan period (1318); and a stele at Crouching Dragon Temple (Wolong si, 卧龍寺) in Xi’an dated to the Chinese Ming period (fifteenth year of the Hongwu reign; 1382).

This image may be painted over a woodblock print, similar to the footprints (Cat. 13), by a Mongolian artist.


Selig-Brown, Kathryn. Eternal Presence: Handprints and Footprints in Buddhist Art. Katonah Museum of Art, 2004, 65.

[page 68]

Cat. 15: KhedrupMkhas grub’s Vision of His Teacher TsongkhapaTsong kha pa


Central Tibet; 18th century. Pigments on cloth; 16 x 27 in. Lent by the Collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin (HAR 56).

Looking upward at a vision, KhedrupMkhas grub (1385-1438) holds a symbolic offering of the universe (maṇḍala), constructed of precious substances, to his teacher, the Lord TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419), who floats above on a cloud bank mounted atop an elephant. This painting depicts one of the five visions that the student KhedrupMkhas grub had of his teacher after his death.159 This same scene appears at the top right of the map of Wutai shan (Fig. 40), where the elephant that TsongkhapaTsong kha pa rides has become part of the clouds that support him.

The inscription below reads:

The venerable King of Dharma, TsongkhapaTsong kha pa, who bestowed the empowerment and instructions of Vajrabhairava on Khedrup Gelek PelMkhas grub dge legs dpal, who cleared away the faults/interpolations in the ritual texts for service and worship of Six-armed Mahākāla.160

Figure 40. KhedrupMkhas grub’s vision of TsongkhapaTsong kha pa. 1846 Wutai shan map, top right detail.

Corresponding to this inscription (visually documenting this transmission and reinforcing the teacher-student relationship), Vajrabhairava, whose teachings TsongkhapaTsong kha pa bestowed on his student KhedrupMkhas grub, floats above him at top right. One of the main GelukDge lugs protectors, Six-armed Mahākāla, whose worship KhedrupMkhas grub especially promoted and is therefore also mentioned in the inscription, appears at bottom left.

[page 69]

The founder of the GelukDge lugs monastic order, TsongkhapaTsong kha pa, who was himself considered a Tibetan emanation of Mañjuśrī, can be found everywhere on the map of Wutai shan, including the five visions of him emanating on clouds from each of the mountain’s five peaks (Fig. 4, nos. 2, 9, 11, 18, 28). In his secret biography TsongkhapaTsong kha pa tells KhedrupMkhas grub that he has emanations on Wutai, and may be related to this tradition of depicting Mañjuśrī as TsongkhapaTsong kha pa on the mountain.161 The Mongols were militant followers of the GelukDge lugs, the monastic order of the Dalai Lama, and this map asserts not only a Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist religious identity on Wutai shan but, more specifically in this case, a GelukDge lugs identity. Through this imagery, the map declares a sectarian religious vision of the mountain.


Rhie, Marylin, and Robert Thurman. Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion. New York: Tibet House, 1999, Cat 127, 355-57.

Nepalese Roots

For Tibetans the idea that Wutai shan is the earthly abode of Mañjuśrī has its source in Nepal. A famous legend tells that Vipashwi Buddha planted seeds in a lake that grew into a great jeweled lotus that emitted light. From far away in China, on the highest peak of Wutai shan, Mañjuśrī saw this beacon. Observing that beings were unable to reach this relic of Vipashwi Buddha in the middle of a lake, Mañjuśrī cut a gorge with his sword, Candrahas, to drain the water, forming the Kathmandu Valley. A stūpa was built over this relic, which was originally called Mañjuśrī Stūpa (mañju-caitya), and later renamed Svāyambhū, one of the greatest Buddhist sacred sites in Nepal. Mañjuśrī was inspired by this relic to cut his hair and become an ascetic, and it is said that the lice that lived in his hair became monkeys, an animal for which this site is famous.

[page 70]

Cat. 16: Svāyambhū Stūpa

Nepal; 18th century. Répoussé copper; 17.5" h. x 11.5" w. x 3.75" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.63 (HAR 700095).

The presence of Mañjuśrī at middle left and the monkey at the bottom left likely identifies this as the famous Svāyambhū Stūpa of the Kathmandu Valley. Mañjuśrī permeates Nepalese society and rituals, in this case the depiction of the Chariot Ritual (bhīmarata), the birthday celebration for a Nepalese elder of Kathmandu.


Mullin, Glenn H., and Jeff Watt. Female Buddhas: Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mysticism. Rubin Museum of Art, Clear Light: Santa Fe, 2003, 110.

Cat. 17: Mañjuśrī

Nepal; 10th century. Gilt copper alloy; 13" h. x 9" w. x 7" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.71.5 (HAR 65758).

This unusual Nepalese form of Mañjuśrī can be identified by his five tufts of hair, the distinctive “tiger claw” shape of his necklace, and the small seed or jewel that he holds in his left hand. The similar small silver Nepalese sculpture with nearly identical attributes nearby confirms the identity of this figure.

[page 71]

Cat. 18: Mañjuśrī

Nepal; 12th century. Silver with gilding; 3.75" h. x 1.875" w. x 1.25" d. Long-term loan from the Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68439).

This small, elegant Nepalese sculpture of Mañjuśrī is identified by his characteristic five tufts of hair and distinctive “tiger claw”-shaped necklace.


Weldon, David, and Jane Casey Singer. The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection. London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999, 70.

Cat. 19: Mañjuśrī

Early Nepalese Style, c. 12th Century. Metalwork. Height: 8.5 cm. Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68441).

[page 72]

Published: Weldon, David, and Jane Casey Singer. The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection. London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999, 72.

Cat. 20: Seated Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī


Nepal; circa 10th century. Metalwork; 45 cm. Long-term loan from the Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68446).

This unusual and stately form of Mañjuśrī, the bodhisattva who is believed to dwell at Wutai shan, is identifiable by his Nepalese iconography, including the small seed or jewel that he holds in his right hand, and the distinctive “tiger claw”-shaped necklace he wears.


Weldon, David, and Jane Casey Singer. The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection. London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999, 88-89.

Cat. 21: The Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī-​ghoṣa)


Tibet; 13th-14th century. Pigments on cloth; 19.75" h. x 15.75" w. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.163 (HAR 154).

While this painting of The Glorious One with a Melodious Voice is Tibetan, aesthetically it closely follows Nepalese conventions, such as a rich red palette and symmetrical schematic composition, which were for many centuries the guiding artistic force in Tibet. The beautiful shimmer in this painting’s red is due to the build up of arsenic in the ground mineral pigments.

At the bottom-right corner is a Tibetan monastic figure, either the commissioner of the work or the intended recipient of the merit generated by its production.


[page 73]

Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A. F. Thurman. Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion. New York: Tibet House, 1999, 30 and 31, no. 30.

Cat. 22: White Mañjuśrī

Nepal; 14th century. Copper alloy; 2.75" h. x 1.75" w. x 1" d. C2006.23.1 (HAR 65655).

Cat. 23: Mañjuśrī Nāmasaṃgīti

Nepal; 18th century Gilt alloy; répoussé; 7" high. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.60 (HAR 700069).

[page 74]

Cat. 24: Mañjuśrī

Nepal, 13th-14th century Metalwork. Height: 6.5 cm. Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68442).

Published: Weldon, David, and Jane Casey Singer. The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection. London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999, 72.

The Three Mañjuśrī of Tibet

Three great Buddhist scholars from different monastic orders in Tibet – Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita (1182-1251) of the SakyaSa skya school, LongchenpaKlong chen pa (1308-1363) of the NyingmaRnying ma school, and TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419) of the GelukDge lugs school – are known as the “Three Mañjuśrī of Tibet,” believed to be emanations of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom on Earth. All three of these teachers have Mañjuśrī’s characteristic attributes, the sword and the book, which sit on utpala blossoms at their shoulders and identify these people with the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Mañjuśrī. The sword metaphorically cleaves through the dark clouds of ignorance and the text is the Book of Transcendental Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra).

[page 75]

Cat. 25: Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita Künga GyentsenKun dga’ rgyal mtshan (1182-1251) and Chögyel PakpaChos rgyal ’phags pa


Central Tibet; 18th century. Pigments on cloth; 31.25" h. x 22.25" w. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.23 (HAR 695).

One of Tibet’s greatest scholars, Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita Künga GyentsenKun dga’ rgyal mtshan (1182-1251), was considered an emanation of Mañjuśrī, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, on Earth. Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita was one of the most influential thirteenth-century Tibetan figures said to have visited Wutai shan during his trip to the Mongol court in the thirteenth century.162 At Wutai shan he is supposed to have written many famous letters giving philosophical and spiritual advice, which he sent back to Tibet. He also composed many prayers that extolled the virtues of Mañjuśrī and the mountain and helped promote Tibetan interest in the pilgrimage site.

In this painting Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita is accompanied by his nephew Chögyel Pakpa Lodrö GyentsenChos rgyal ’phags pa blo gros rgyal mtshan (1235-1280), who visited Wutai shan repeatedly. The historical record is clearer regarding Chögyel PakpaChos rgyal ’phags pa’s visits to Wutai shan, where he spent several years composing texts that eulogized Mañjuśrī and the mountain. Pakpa’Phags pa’s poetry of Wutai shan was some of the most influential, such as his one-hundred verse poem: “The Garland of Jewels: Praise to Mañjuśrī at Five-Peak Mountain,” written in 1257.

[page 76]

Cat. 26: Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita Künga GyentsenKun dga’ rgyal mtshan (1182-1251)


Tibet; 16th century. Gilt copper alloy with pigment; 7" h. x 4" w. x 4.25" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2005.16.37 (HAR 65460).

This figure is identified by inscription on the front of the sculpture as the great SakyaSa skya scholar Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita. His hat is a shoulder-length cloth cap modeled on the hats worn by Indian Learned men (paṇḍita).

Cat. 27: Longchenpa Drimé ÖzerKlong chen pa dri med ’od zer (1308-1363)


Tibet; 19th century. Pigments on cloth; 15" h. x 10.25" w. Rubin Museum of Art. F1998.9.2 (HAR 631).

Longchenpa Drimé ÖzerKlong chen pa dri med ’od zer, the second major Tibetan emanation of Mañjuśrī, was a prolific author and systematizer of early NyingmaRnying ma contemplative literature. He is most famous for his wide-ranging commentaries, known as the “Seven Treasuries.” He was pivotal in the history of the NyingmaRnying ma tradition, emphasizing a blend of rigorous academic scholarship and meditation. The figure seated directly below LongchenpaKlong chen pa is the famous teacher Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo’Jam dbyangs mkhyen rtse dbang po (b. 1819), one of the founders of the non-sectarian (rikmérigs med) movement, allowing us to date this painting to the nineteenth century.


[page 77]

Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A. F. Thurman. Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion. New York: Tibet House, 1999, Cat 69, 258-59.

Cat. 28: TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419)


Wutai shan, China; after 1805. Appliquéd silks; h. 77½ in, w. 44 in (ca 6.46 x 3.6 feet). Newark Museum, Gift of Henry H. Wehrhene, 1942 (42.198).

TsongkhapaTsong kha pa was the founder of the GelukDge lugs school of Tibetan Buddhism, which would come to wield great religious and political influence throughout Inner Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries among the Tibetans, Mongols, and Manchus alike. He was considered an emanation of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Mañjuśrī, indicated by the sword and book prominently displayed on utpala flowers at his shoulders. The influence of his school of Buddhism was profound, and he can, therefore, be found everywhere on the map of Wutai shan in this exhibition.

A Tibetan inscription sewn on the back of this textile states that this cloth image of Mañjuśrī (manifested as TsongkhapaTsong kha pa) was given to the Geshé Sudhi by “the lady of noble lineage, the jewel-holding protectoress.” The patron who commissioned this object was the elder sister of a monk named Jampel DorjéJams dpal rdo rje studying at one of the great GelukDge lugs monasteries outside of LhasaLha sa, Drepung’Bras spungs. The inscription stipulates that this image was to be placed in the NorzangNor bzang Cave (Norzang Druppuknor bzang sgrub phug), known in Chinese as the Cave of Sudhana (Shancai dong, 善財洞; Fig. 4, no. 69) at Wutai shan, together with the stūpa of the remains of the master Jñāna.


Reynolds, Valrae. “A Sino-Mongolian-Tibetan Buddhist Appliqué in the Newark Museum.” Orientations (April 1990): 32-38.

Reynolds, Valrae. From the Sacred Realm: Treasures of Tibetan Art from the Newark Museum. Munich; New York: Prestel, 1999, 194-98.

[page 78]

Cat. 29: TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419)


Tibet; 16th century. Metalwork; 7 cm. Long-term loan from the Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68479).

TsongkhapaTsong kha pa is presented in this sculpture with his common attributes – monastic robes, hands forming a teaching gesture, and a sword and book above the shoulders. His pointed yellow hat (see Cat. 28) is often realized in sculptures by a textile hat placed on the head.

While TsongkhapaTsong kha pa was never known to have visited Wutai shan himself, because he was considered an emanation of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Mañjuśrī, and the founder of the GelukDge lugs monastic order to which the Mongols and Manchu rulers were particularly devoted, visions of him as Mañjuśrī can be found all over the mountain, such as in Cat. nos. 1, 15, and 28.


Weldon, David, and Jane Casey Singer. The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection. London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999, 144-47.

The Book of Transcendental Wisdom

The Book of Transcendental Wisdom is one of the earliest recorded discourses in Indian Buddhism, dating to the first to second century CE. The teaching is conveyed mainly through dialogue between the Buddha and his major followers, and a special emphasis is given to the role of the bodhisattva, someone who aspires to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. These teachings of the Buddha were believed to be too profound at the time to be understood properly, and so this text was handed over for safe keeping to the king of serpent spirits (nāga) to await a more propitious time. These teachings on the nature of wisdom were kept in the king’s underwater realm for many years until he bestowed this book on the worthy scholar, the great Indian philosopher Nāgārjuna, as foretold by prophecy.

The Book of Transcendental Wisdom is seen as the source of wisdom that Mañjuśrī later came to embody, and thus, this bodhisattva became closely associated with the text.

[page 79]

Cat. 30: Illustrated Eight Thousand-Verse Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra


Tibet; 20th century. Woodblock print on paper. Rubin Museum of Art. LHM2006.35.1. (HAR 79625).

The Book of Transcendental Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra) is the text almost always depicted with Mañjuśrī, typically at his left shoulder. It is not simply an idealized symbol of wisdom but an actual book containing philosophical discourse and narrative content.

Several figures depicted in this text are considered emanations of Mañjuśrī, such as Tri SongdetsenKhri srong lde btsan (740-798) – on the right side of the page holding book and sword – the Tibetan emperor who established Buddhism as the official religion of the Tibetan state and built Tibet’s first monastery, SamyéBsam yas.

The earliest Tibetan contact with Wutai shan was said to have been through the Indian siddha Padampa SanggyéPha dam pa sangs rgyas – on the left side of the page with his knees held up by a meditation strap – who lived for many years in Tibet, gathering many Tibetan disciples, and also spent twelve years on Wutai shan in the late eleventh century.

Many Tibetans believe that the Sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang GyatsoTshangs dbyangs rgya mtsho (1683-1706/1746; Fig. 35) – on the right side of the page holding up a flower – a popular and controversial historical figure who was supposed to have been executed, secretly lived out his days in meditation in a cave at Wutai shan (Fig. 4, no. 63). His cave became an important focus of pilgrimage in its own rite.


Linrothe, Rob. Holy Madness: Portraits of Tantric Siddhas. New York: Rubin Museum of Art and Serindia Publications, 2006, Cat. No. 77.

[page 80]

Cat. 31: Book Cover

Tibet; 13th century Pigment of wood; 11.625" h. x 29" w. x 1.5" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.27.1 (HAR 65641).

Cat. 32: Book Cover

Tibet; 14th century. Pigment on wood. Rubin Museum of Art. F1998.13.3 (HAR 700049).

Cat. 33: Book Cover

Tibet; 14th century. Wood; 10.375" h. x 28.75" w. x 1" d. Rubin Museum of Art (HAR 700096).

Cat. 34: Book Cover

Tibet; 15th century. Wood; 3.199" h. x 11.614" w. x 0.443" d. Rubin Museum of Art (HAR 700102).

[page 81]

Cat. 35: Book Cover

Tibet; 15th century. Wood; 8.875" h. x 28.875" w. x 1.125" d. Rubin Museum of Art (HAR 700103).

Cat. 36: Nāga King

Nepal; 18th century. Metal; 24" h. x 13.5" w. x 4" d. Rubin Museum of Art C2004.37.1 (HAR 65392).

Forms of Mañjuśrī

Mañjuśrī is one of the most important bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon, the patron deity of wisdom, education, composition, and memory. He represents the wisdom of all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three times, and can manifest in different forms depending on the circumstances. Typically, Mañjuśrī is depicted as a beautiful youth wielding a flaming sword that cuts through the ignorance that obscures the true nature of reality and binds beings to a cycle of suffering. In his [page 82] left hand he holds a book, the Book of Transcendental Wisdom, both the source and embodiment of his awakened understanding.

Wutai shan is defined as Mañjuśrī’s abode on Earth by the five unique forms of Mañjuśrī that are said to dwell, one each, on its five peaks. This arrangement of Wutai shan comes out of the Mañjuśrī astrological system that explains the origins of the world and arranges the mountain’s five peaks into a cosmic diagram (maṇḍala), with each peak placed in a cardinal direction and assigned a corresponding primary color associated with one of the five Buddha realms.

North Peak: Stainless Mañjuśrī (vimala)
West Peak: Mañjuśrī seated on a lion (vādisiṁha) Central Peak: Mañjuśrī wielding a sword (mañjuśrī nātha) East Peak Four-armed Mañjuśrī (mañjughoṣa tikṣṇa)
South Peak: White Mañjuśrī (jñānasattva)

Cat. 37: Indian Teachers Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva


Eastern Tibet; 19th century. Pigments on cloth; 23 x 15 in. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.167 (HAR 174).

This painting depicts a serpent spirit offering the great philosopher Nāgārjuna the Book of Transcendental Wisdom from his watery realm, while his student Āryadeva looks on. This same scene appears in the lower left-hand corner of the adjacent painting.

Above, a luminous White Mañjuśrī hangs in the center of the sky like an autumn moon, while floating down on a diagonal trail of clouds is another form of Mañjuśrī, riding a shaggy Chinese lion, which is associated with the Mañjuśrī emanations at Wutai shan (Fig. 2).

This simple and open composition, with sparing use of pigment and with other Chinese visual conventions such as the stand of bamboo framing the figures to the left, is a worthy transmitter of Situ PenchenSi tu paṇ chen’s painting style.


Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A. F. Thurman. Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion. New York: Tibet House, 1999, No. 40, p. 212.

[page 83]

Cat. 38: Mañjuśrī


From Situ’s set of Eight Great Bodhisattvas. Eastern Tibet; 18th century. Pigments on cloth; 33 x 20 in. (83.82 x 50.8 cm). Rubin Museum of Art. F1997.40.6 (HAR 587).

This is a non-iconic form of Mañjuśrī commissioned by the innovative scholar-painter Situ PenchenSi tu paṇ chen (1700-1774) as part of his “Eight Great Bodhisattva” set.163 One of Situ PenchenSi tu paṇ chen’s greatest artistic legacies was his role in designing simple open painting compositions such as this one.

Normally with an orange color one would expect Mañjuśrī to be energetically wielding his sword, as in Cat. 39. Instead, Situ chose the simple grace of a relaxed pose over the rippling water of a lotus pond, which imbues this image with a quiet contemplative feeling.


Jackson, David. “Some Karma Kagyupa Paintings in the Rubin Collection.” In Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion, ed. Rhie and Thurman. New York: Tibet House, and Harry Abrams, 1999, 103, Plate 10.

Jackson, David. Patron & Painter: Situ Panchen and the Revival of the Encampment Style. NY: Rubin Museum of Art, 2009, p, 11.

[page 84]

Cat. 39: Mañjuśrī - Arapachana


Tibet; 17th century. Gilt copper alloy; 22” high. Lent by the Lobsang & Jane Werner-Aye Collection.

This sculpture corresponds to the form of Mañjuśrī who dwells on Wutai shan’s central peak, where he is called Mañjuśrī Nātha. A characteristic feature of Mañjuśrī is that he wears his hair in five tresses or braids, corresponding to the five peaks of Wutai shan, which is vividly depicted in this sculpture.

Cat. 40: Mañjuśrī - Arapachana


Tibet; 18th century. Pigments on cloth; 30.875" h. x 20.75" w. Rubin Museum of Art. C2004.1 (HAR 521).

This painting represents the most common form of Mañjuśrī found in all traditions of northern Buddhism. His name, Arapachana, derives from the mystical alphabet based on the Book of Transcendental Wisdom itself. This form corresponds to the Mañjuśrī who dwells on Wutai shan’s central peak, called Mañjuśrī Nātha. His peak is made of gold and is associated with the realm of the Buddha Vairocana. His right hand holds aloft the blue flaming sword of wisdom which severs ignorance. The left holds the stem of an utpala flower supporting on the blossom the Book of Transcendental Wisdom.

Above in the clouds appear teachers of the SakyaSa skya school of Tibetan Buddhism. Mañjuśrī is considered very important to the SakyaSa skya school, so much so that all of the important [page 85] lineage holders of the SakyaSa skya school were regarded as emanations of the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī.


Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A. F. Thurman. Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion. New York: Tibet HouseNew York, Publishers, 1999, Cat. No. 31.

Cat. 41: Mañjuśrī - Arapachana


Tibet; 19th century. Pigments on cloth; 16¼ x 12¼ in. C2006.66.464 (HAR 925).

This orange form of Mañjuśrī, wielding his sword and holding the Book of Transcendental Wisdom aloft, is associated with Wutai shan’s central peak. At the bottom center Sarasvatī, Goddess of Literature, Learning, and Music, plays her lute.

This painting is a pastiche of several compositions by the great eighteenth-century scholar-painter Situ PenchenSi tu paṇ chen (1700-1774). It includes Asaṅga and Vasubandhu at bottom right and Āryadeva and Nāgārjuna receiving the Book of Transcendental Wisdom from the serpent spirits (nāga) at bottom left, both from a larger set of Indian scholars called the “Six Ornaments and Two Superiors.” (See Cat. 37 for one of the compositions this painting was based on.) However, something of Situ PenchenSi tu paṇ chen’s brilliance as a composer of paintings is lost in the repeated copying, most noticeably where his billowing-cloud and swirling-water forms of Chinese inspiration have become hardened into flat linear patterns.

[page 86]

Cat. 42: Mañjuśrī


Tibet, 12th-13th century. Bronze; height 14.3 cm. Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68323).

Cat. 43: Mañjuśrī


Tibet; 15th century. Copper alloy; 3⅝ x 3½ x ¾ in. Rubin Museum of Art.C2006.23.2 (HAR 65656).

[page 87]

Cat. 44: Mañjuśrī


Tibet, 14th century. Metalwork; height: 14 cm. Collection of Nyingjei Lam (HAR 68322).

Published: Weldon, David, and Jane Casey Singer. The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection. London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999, 72.

Cat. 45: White Mañjuśrī


Tibet; 19th century. Pigments on cloth; 21 x 14 in. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.30 (HAR 846).

White Mañjuśrī corresponds to the form of Mañjuśrī that inhabits Wutai shan’s southern terrace, where he is called Jñānasattva. His peak is made of semiprecious stones and is associated with the realm of the Buddha Ratnasaṁbhava. Here he is depicted as an eight-year-old youth, white, like the autumn moon, with his hair tied into five tufts. The Book of Transcendental Wisdom is supported by an utpala blossom at his left shoulder. As described in early liturgical texts, below the deity’s lotus throne a pair of elephants plays in the water.

The Tibetan painter’s choices of color create a remarkable effect in this painting. The deep blue of the sky combined with the soft warm orange of the nimbus overlaid with fine lines of gold contrasts with the cool luminous white of the bodhisattva’s body, causing it to shine forth like moonlight, just as he is described in his liturgy.

[page 88]

Cat. 46: Mañjuśrī Nāmasaṃgīti


Tibet; 19th century. Pigment on cotton; 14¾ x 14¼ in. Rubin Museum of Art. C2004.1 (HAR 236).

This four-armed form of Mañjuśrī is similar to the one who resides on the eastern terrace of Wutai shan, where he is called Mañjughoṣa Tikṣṇa. His peak is made of crystal and is associated with the realm of the Buddha Akṣobhya.

Iconometric measuring lines have been drawn with red and blue ink, indicating the correct physical proportions for the drawing of this form of Mañjuśrī. The Tibetan Buddhist painting traditions follow strict guidelines for body proportions, which vary according to the kind of figure being depicted.

Cat. 47: Mañjuśrī Nāmasaṃgīti


Tibet; 15th century. Pigments on cloth; 35 x 24¼ in. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.66.119 (HAR 62).

This form of Mañjuśrī is similar to the one that resides on the eastern terrace of Wutai shan, where he is called Mañjughoṣa Tikṣṇa. Filling the surrounding space of this painting are one hundred figures displaying the three most common forms of Mañjuśrī. At the bottom left is a teacher (lamabla ma) seated on a throne, wearing red monastic robes and hat, and accepting white scarves from a lamabla ma and a lay woman wearing an apron. Opposite, just above the bottom right corner, are two small figures seated upon lotus blossoms and facing toward the main figure of Mañjuśrī. These two, possibly deceased children, may be the reason for the commissioning of the work. The merit gained from the sponsoring and viewing of the painting is dedicated toward a beneficial rebirth of the two individuals.

At the top of the deities’ throne back, a scrolling vegetal pattern of curling leaves is painted in cool blues and greens against a contrasting warm red ground causing them to spring forth, creating an abstract pattern that gives this provincial painting [page 89] its charm. This painting is likely from the remote area of DölpoDol po on the Tibet-Nepal border.

Cat. 48: Mañjuśrī

Nepal; 16th century. Gilt copper alloy with inlays of semiprecious stones; 8.5" h. x 4.25" w. x 4" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2003.33.2 (HAR 65255).

This sculpture of Mañjuśrī, with his leg hanging down, could have once been seated on a lion (now lost), which would make him Mañjuśrī Dharmadhātu or Siṁhanāda, corresponding to the form of Mañjuśrī who lives on Wutai shan’s western peak.

[page 90]

There are several features that identify this sculpture as Nepalese, specifically the distinctive helmet crowned with a vajra that he wares and the inlaying of translucent semiprecious stones such as crystal, which is more common in Nepal than Tibet.

Cat. 49: Mañjuśrī


Tibet; tenth century. Gilt copper alloy; 9.5" h. x 3.5" w. x 1.5" d. Rubin Museum of Art. C2002.29.3 (HAR 65147).

This sculpture from western Tibet follows pala patterns of non-iconic forms, in which the deity holds the attributes of the bodhisattva, such as the sword, here held in a martial pose at his chest, but does not follow Tantric textual descriptions. [page 91] In such non-iconic images, the composition of the figure is arranged by the sculptor based on personal artistic considerations and are, therefore, often some of the more visually interesting.

Cat. 50: Protective Astrological Chart


Tibet; 19th century. Ground mineral pigment on cotton. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.71.11 (HAR 65764).

This Tibetan astrological chart is an auspicious talisman and an instructional tool that brings good fortune to all those who see, display, or possess it. Such charts can often be found hanging on the walls of Tibetan houses or even engraved on amulets carried on one’s person. This Tibetan system of astrology derives from China and was believed to have been taught by Mañjuśrī at Wutai shan. It is unclear when this association with Mañjuśrī on Wutai shan as the source of Tibetan divination started, but it is already present in the fourteenth-century Pema KatangPadma bka’ thang (1352), a biography of Padmasambhava (Pema Jungnépad ma ’byung gnas) by the treasure revealer Orgyen LingpaO rgyan gling pa (b. 1323).164 By the seventeenth century this perception that Mañjuśrī taught this system of divination represented in this chart on Wutai shan is firmly established, as can be seen in The White Beryl (Baiḍūṛya dkar po), an (encyclopedic) treatise on Tibetan astrology and divination commissioned by the Fifth Dalai Lama’s regent, the Desi Sanggyé GyatsoSde srid sangs rgyas rgya mtsho (1653-1705).165

The primary figure at bottom center is a yellow tortoise, an emanation of the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, lying on its back. The tortoise is a metaphor for creation, and origin myths of the world were based on this system of astrology, with the image of the tortoise at its center. On the tortoise’s belly is a small circle of nine colored squares containing the nine magic numbers (mewa gusme ba dgu), the eight trigrams (parkha gyéspar kha brgyad), and the twelve animals of the zodiac, which, combined with the five elements, form the sixty-year cycle of the Tibetan calendar. Along the [page 92] sides are rows of sigils, each representing a negative spirit, which binds them in a contract agreeing not to harm the displayer of the image. Along the top Indian deities, planetary deities, and important stars guard against maladies like epilepsy.

Seated at top center of this painting is Mañjuśrī in his more familiar form, wielding a flaming sword.

Cat. 51: Mañjuśrī


Tibet or China; 18th century. Pigments on cloth; 56½ x 31¾ in. Rubin Museum of Art. C2006.40.1 (HAR 65685).

At the top and bottom of this Chinese-inspired painting of Mañjuśrī are small narrative scenes, possibly depicting Mañjuśrī’s previous lives. This is an unusual theme to find illustrated, and based on comparisons to other known sets, this work would likely have been the fifth painting from a set of seven.166

[page 93]

Figure 41. Artist notations, detail of Cat. 50 Mañjuśrī. Rubin Museum of Art C2006.40.1 (HAR 65685).
Figure 42. Attendant figures, detail of Cat. 50 Mañjuśrī. Rubin Museum of Art C2006.40.1 (HAR 65685).

Although painted with a strong Chinese sensibility, the Tibetan identity of the painters is revealed in Tibetan language artists’ color notations where the paint has flaked away (Fig. 41). Also, while the clothing of the secondary figures are quite Chinese in general appearance, details like the crown and hat of the two attendant figures to the left (Fig. 42) do not appear in either Tibetan or Chinese painting, suggesting that Tibetan painters referenced models from another culture with strong connections to Chinese art, such as the Tanguts, Kitans, or Jurchin of Central Asia. In overall palette and style this painting would appear to be an eighteenth-century work.167

[page 94]

[125] Seven are enumerated in Chou, “Ineffable Paths,” 126, fn. 11. Several printings have been published and studied in Europe, China, and America: F. A. Bischoff, “Die Wu T’ai shan darstellung von 1846,” in Arbeitskreis fur Tibetische und Buddhistische studien (Wein: Universitat Wein, 1983); Halén, Mirrors of the Void; Chun Rong, “Cifu si”; Chou, “Ineffable Paths”; and Chou, “Maps of Wutai Shan.”
[126] Chou, “Ineffable Paths,” 119.
[127] A number of these sites are identified and discussed by Chou, “Ineffable Paths.” The black-lobed hat depicted on the figure emanating out of the Tāranātha Stūpa can be most clearly seen in the Helsinki printing (see Chou, “Maps of Wutai Shan,” Image 6) and can be compared to nineteenth-century depictions of hats worn by the First Mongol Jetsün DampaRje btsun dam pa, Zanabazar (1635-1723), such as seen in Berger, “Preserving the Nation,” 129, fig. 2. In essence then, it is the Mongol Jetsün DampaRje btsun dam pa who is depicted emanating out of the Tāranātha Stūpa, branding Wutai shan with a Mongol identity.
[128] Chou, “Ineffable Paths”; and Chou, “Maps of Wutai Shan.”
[129] As Chou (“Ineffable Paths” and “Maps of Wutai Shan”) points out, this is unlike the coloring of other published versions of this woodblock print, such as the one in Helsinki, which is hand colored reminiscent of popular Chinese New Year Woodblock print (nianhua, 年畫) of Shanxi Province. The coloring of the copy in the Library of Congress conforms more to Chinese conventions of landscape depiction (Chou, “Ineffable Paths”).
[130] The Tibetan spells “ro bi” instead of “ri bo.” Such a basic mistake in such a prominent place on this work suggests that the colorist who re-copied the titles that were covered over with heavy pigment was not Tibetan literate. In the Chinese epigraphic tradition the dated colophon is extremely important, and it is unlikely that a Chinese artist would have forgotten to recopy this section. This differs from Chou’s reading in “Maps of Wutai Shan,” who sees a Tibetan hand at work.
[131] Special thanks to David Newman for all of his work on the design of this valuable digital resource and to Professor Gray Tuttle for sharing his photographs of Wutai shan.
[132] The poetic Tibetan title for this map comes from the old Chinese name for Wutai shan, “Clear and Cool Mountain” (Qingliang shan, 清涼山, Riwo Dangsilri bo dwangs bsil), which is the name of Wutai shan’s gazetteer, Record of Clear and Cool Mountain (Qingliang shan zhi; composed in 1596 and revised in 1661). Riwo DangsilRi bo dwangs bsil is also the name used for Wutai shan in the title of Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje’s Tibetan guide to Wutai shan, Zhingchok Riwo Dangsilgyi Neshé Depé Pemo Gyejé Ngotsar Nyimé NangwaZhing mchog ri bo dwangs bsil gyi gnas bshad dad pa’i padmo rgyas byed ngo mtshar nyi ma’i snang ba, from whence this map title probably comes. Interestingly the Chinese title for the map simply calls the site “Wutai shan,” its more common appellation. The Mongolian title follows the Tibetan, not the Chinese: Composition of the Land of Cool-Clear Mountain (Serigün tungγalaγ aγula-yin oron-u jokiyal; see below).
[133] The three realms of being or world realms are: the desire realm (Döpé Kham’dod pa’i khams, kāmadhātu), the form realm (Zuk Khamgzugs khams, rūpadhātu), and the formless realm (Zukmekyi Khamgzugs med kyi khams, ārūpyadhātu).
[134] The three buddha bodies are: dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya.
[135] Here Mañjuśrī takes the role of the guru, or teacher, who embodies the three jewels. While one’s teacher might be described this way, it is unusual for a deity.
[136] Rinpoché Nyingpö ZungRin po che snying po’i gzungs = Mañjuśrī-​dharma-​ratnagarbha-​dhāraṇī Sūtra ([Wenshu shili fa] Baozang tuoluoni jing, [文殊師利法]寶藏陀羅尼經)? Interestingly the Tibetan version of the text being quoted here (Rinpoché Nyinpo ZungRin chen snying po gzungs) does not mention Mañjuśrī or Wutai shan (the Sanskrit version of the Mañjuśrī-​dharma-​ratnagarbha-​dhāraṇī Sūtra is no longer extant). Etienne Lamotte has argued that the Chinese translation of the Flower Garland Sūtra was “falsified” to assign Mañjuśrī a dwelling place on Mount Wutai, just as accounts of Chinese history were refashioned long after the actual events to legitimize the bodhisattva’s long tenure on the mountain. See: Mary Anne Cartelli, “On a Five-colored Cloud: The Songs of Mount Wutai,” The Journal of the American Oriental Society (Oct 2004).
[137] Gyelwo Kyinkang MekyiRgyal bo kyin kang me kyi is transliterated from the Chinese, Jingang miji wang (金剛密跡王; Soothill, Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, 281; a form of Vajrapāṇi). That the Tibetan text on the map does not use the common Tibetan name for this deity is likely because this passage of the text is a Chinese interpolation that does not exist in the Tibetan (see footnote 10 above). It also suggests that the text on the map was first written in Chinese and then translated into Tibetan.
[138] The Chinese texts says “there is a country called ‘Great China’” which is omitted here.
[139] Around large Mongolian monasteries were special lama communities called ayimag. Around Amurbayasqulangtu Monastery in northern Khalkha (Mongolia), a monastery built in honor of the Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu, were six or so such lama communities, one of which was Sangga or Sanggai. Five to six hundred lamas lived here. This, most likely is the Sangga-yin monastic community that is referred to. I would like to thank Brian Baumann, who translated the Mongolian text on this map, for explaining this Mongolian term to me.
[140] Takhurétā khu re is the Mongolian name Da Khüriye, or “The Great Monastery” of the Jebtsundamba incarnations, founded in 1654, which became the core of the capital of Mongolia, modern day Ulaanbaatar (see Atwood, “Validation by Holiness or Sovereignty,” 566.) Interestingly Chun Rong, “Cifu si”; and Chou, “Ineffable Paths,” take the text to say: “the disciple of Jebtsundamba from the Great Kingdom of China (dazhenna, 大震那)…” However I believe this to be in error, the Chinese text rather reading Dakuwei (大窟圍), reflecting the Tibetan reading “TakhuréTā khu re” (Da Khüriye). This previous reading of the Chinese text by Chun Rong, and followed by Chou, “Ineffable Paths,” inserts a loaded modern political meaning into this nineteenth-century text, calling Mongolia part of China. Chou has since revised her translation provided here.
[141] This would be Cifu si (慈福寺, Jamgé Lingbyams dge gling; Fig. 4, no. 21).
[142] ro bo dwangs bsil kyi gnas bkod// dus gsum rgyal kun kun nas bsngags pa’i khams// khams gsum bar snang snang byed ’od ’phros sku// sku gsum gzugs ston ston pa ’jam dpal mchog/ mchog gsum rang nyid nyid du gyur bar ’dud// phal po che’i mdo las// ’di nas byang shar mtshams gyi gnas shig na// ri bo dwangs bsil zhes bya’i gnas yod de// sngon chad rgyal sras mang po de na bzhugs// da lta rgyal sras ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyi// ’khor gyi byang chub sems pa khri phrag bcas// de du bzhugs nas dam pa’i chos kyang gsungs// zhes pa dang / yang rin po che snying bo’i gzungs las// rgyal bo kyin kang me kyi la// bcom ldan ’das kyis bka’ stsal pa// nga mya ngan las ’das pa’i ’og tu ’dzam bu gling gi byang shar gyi mtshams su ri bo rtse lnga zhes pa’i gnas chen yod de// ’jam dpal gzhon nus der ’gro ’chag dang ’dug gnas byed cing ’gro ba thams cad gyi don du chos gsungs so// grangs med pa’i lha klu sde brgyad ’khor dang bcas pa rnams bsnyen bkur byed zhes pa la sogs pa’i mdo rgyud du ma nas bsngags pa’i gnas mchog ’di nyid kyi bkod pa mdor bsdus tsam bris pa// ’di la mthong thos dran reg gi ’brel ba ’thob tsad tshe rabs kun tu rje btsun ’jam pa’i dbyangs kyis rjes su ’dzin pa’i rgyur dmigs te// ri bo rtse lnga’i byams dge gling gi bla brang du// dad ldan sbyin bdag tā khu re’i rje btsun dam pa’i zhabs gras sangga’i ’as mag gi brkos pa dge slong lhun grub zhes bya bas rgyu yon sbyar ste ta’i ching to’u kwang rgyal bo khri bzhugs lo nyer drug pa’i sa ga zla ba’i tshes bco lnga’i nyin par spar du brkos pa’o// //skyabs mchog ’jam dbyangs gnas bkod ’di// gang dang gang la mchod byas pa// de dang de ru mi mthun phyogs// zhi nas bde skyid dar bar shog/ //bkra shis par gyur cig/ // mangalam//.
[143] Wutai shan Shengjing Quantu. Shiyue: sanshi zhufo cheng qingliang, fazhao sanjie ji wanfang, wenshu bianhua tong fansheng, sanbao zhuxian ji cishen, zhenrong jiuzai qingliangjing. Renren jingli wu suoguan. Da Huayanjing yun, dongbei fang you chu min Qingliangshan, cong xi yi lai zhu pusa zhongyu zhongzhi zhu, xianyou pusa ming wenshu shili, qi juanshu zhu pusa zhong yi wanren, ju chang zai qizhong er yan shuofa. You baozang tuoluoni jing yun, fo gao jingang miji wang yan, wo miedu hou yu ci nan zhan buzhou dongbei fang, you guoming da zhen na, qi zhong you shan, ming yue wuding, wenshu tongzi lvxing juzhu, wei zhu zhongsheng yu zhong shuofa, ji you wuliang tianlong ba bu wei rao gong yang, si yan ke shen’ ai. Ci wutai yi xian shan tu, wei neng jinq xiangxi, si fang shang shi fan chao qingliang shengjing, ji jian ci shan tu, wen jiang pusa ling yan miaofa zhe, jin sheng neng xiao yiqie zainan jibing, hen fu hen shou, fu lu mian chang, ming zhong zhi hou, sheng yu youfu zhidi, jie lai pusa cihua ’er’ de ye. Gu da ku wei zhizong danbafo zhi tu sanga a mage, ming ge long long zhu, da fa yuan xin, qinshou kezao ciban, yi shi sifang shangshi. Ru you dafa touxin, yin ci shantu zhe, ze gongde wuliang yi. Translated by Wen-shing Chou. This is a corrected translation from her 2007 “Ineffible Paths” article.

(1) Om suvasti. (2) γurban čaγ-un (3) ilaγuγsan bükün ber (4) sayišiyaγsan oron (5) γurban oron-u gegen (6) ǰabsar-i geyigülün (7) üiledügči bey-e-(8)tü, γurban bey-e-yin (9) düri-yi üǰegülüg(10)či, degedü blam-a (11) Manǰuširi, γurban (12) erdeni-yin mön činar (13) čiγuluγsan-a mörgümüi (14) Quvayangki nom-dur (15) ögülügsen anu: Ende-(16)eče umar doron-a (17) oron nigen-dür, (18) Tungγalaγ serigün (19) aγula kemegdekü oron (20) bui büged, uruγsida (21) olan bodisadu-a tegün-(22)dür orošiγsan bui (23) edüge qutuγtu (24) Manǰuširi nökör (25) bodisung, tümen (26) toγatan-luγ-a selte (27) orošiǰu nom nomlaγaǰu (28) bölöge. basa Erdeni ǰirüken (29) toγtaγal-ača, Kin Kang-(30)mi-gi qaγan-dur ilaǰu (31) tegüs nögüčigsen ber ǰarliγ (32) bolur-un: barinirvan (33) boluγsan-u qoyin-a Jambudib-(34)un umar doron-a yin ǰab (35) sar-dur, Tabun üǰügür (36) dabaγaγula kemegsen bui (37) oron tegündür ǰalaγu (38) Manǰuširi orošiǰu (39) qamaγ amitan-u tusadur (40) nom nomlaqui-dur toγo(41)laši ügei tngri (42) luus naiman ayimaγ-a (43) nökör selte-ber, ergün (44) kündelel-i üiledkü terigü(45)ten-i olan sudur dandar-(46)ača sayišiyaγsan oron (47) egünü ǰokiyal-i tobčilan (48) ǰiruγsan egüni üǰükü (49) sonosqu duradqu kötül(50)čiküy-yin barilduγ-a-yi (51) oluγsan, törül tutum (52) bükün-e getülgegči metü (53) …..-daγan (54) bariqu-yin šiltaγan-dur (55) ǰoriǰu, süsüg tegüldür (56) öglige-yin eǰeni-i Yeke (57) Küriyen-ü, boγda (58) Rǰebcun-damba-yin (59) šabi, Sengge-yin ayimaγ (60) seyilbürči gelüng Lhunrub (61) -yin (62) asaraltu buyantu -un -tü (63) seyileǰü ergübe. manggalam.

Dayičing ulus-un törü gereltü-yin qorin ǰurγuduγar on-u dörben sarayin arban tabun-u erkim sayin edür-e.

Translated by Brian Baumann. Unfortunately a Mongolian Unicode font is not available at this time to record the actual inscription here as done in Tibetan and Chinese above, so transliteration will have to suffice.

[145] One of Rölpé DorjéRol pa’i rdo rje’s most significant contributions to the production of religious images was the composition and engraving of several Tibeto-Mongolian iconographic guides with his teacher Erdeni Nomyn Khan, which were the most authoritative of the eighteenth century: the Collection of Images of Tibetan Buddhist Deities (Lamajiao Shengxiangji, 喇嘛教聖像集) and Guide to the Sacred Images of All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (Zhufo Pusa Shengxiangzan, 諸佛菩薩聖像贊), also called simply the Guide to the Sacred Images of All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (Sku brnyan sum brgya) which established the Sino-Tibetan iconic forms for the next two hundred years. His own image is interestingly enough included in this collection of images for veneration, depicting himself with the same attributes as Pakpa’Phags pa. Not a case of self aggrandizement, this was rather in recognition of himself as a symbol of Manchu legitimization, sublimating himself to his role as Pakpa’Phags pa incarnate, and by extension re-affirming Qianlong in his role as Qubilai. See: Blanche Christine Olschak and Thupten Wangyal, Mystic Art of Ancient Tibet (Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1973), no. 53; and Sushama Lohia, Lalitavajra’s Manual of Buddhist Iconography (New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture, 1994), 98, no. 53. In his role in the production of images at court Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje again bears some resemblance to Pakpa’Phags pa, who was entrusted by Qubilai Khan to establish an Imperial Buddhist image for the Yuan dynasty, and groomed his protégé Anige for the task of its formation and the oversight of its execution in the imperial workshops.
[146] For similar paintings in the Freer-Sackler Gallery, DC see a maṇḍala of Cakrasamvara F1905.66 (HAR 69615), http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1905.66 and http://www.himalayanart.org/image.cfm?icode=69615.
[147] See Zhao Peicheng, “Shitan Wutai shan zangchuan fojiao yu jingangshenwu,” 40; and Wang Bin and Guo Chengwen, “Wutai shan jingang wu ji lamam miao daochang” [Buddhist Monastery Rites and Vajra Dance at Mt. Wutai], Wutai shan yanjiu, 33. Also see Charleux, “Mongol Pilgrimages to Wutai Shan in the Late Qing Dynasty.”
[148] Zhao Peicheng, “Shitan Wutai shan zangchuan fojiao yu jingangshenwu,” 40; Wang Bin and Guo Chengwen, “Wutai shan jingang wu ji lamam miao daochang,” 33.
[149] Chou, “Ineffable Paths,” 119. This festival is also called Mañjuśrī’s birthday; see for instance Charleux (“Mongol Pilgrimages to Wutai Shan in the Late Qing Dynasty”), who identified the image in the palanquin as Mañjuśrī.
[150] Dharmatāla, Rosary of White Lotuses, in Phur lcog ngag dbang byams ba, Grwa sa chen po bzhi dang rgyud pa stod smad chags tshul pad dkar ’phreng bo bzhugs (Lhasa: Tibetan Peoples Publishing House, 1989), 339.
[151] zhabs rje ’di bcom ldan ’das myang ngan la bda’ dus kyis zhabs rje yin rgya kar nas rib o rtse lngar gdan drangs nas tshes grangs bzang po la phu sa ’eng na spar du bskos ba yin/ dge’o// mangalam//.
[152] See Zhencheng (1546-1617), Qingliang shan zhi, 29-30, which mentions autumn of 1582 (the ren wu year [tenth year] of the Wanli era [Ming Wanli renwu qiu, 明万历壬午秋]). The Gazetteer entry, which follows the entry for the Great White Stūpa reads (discrepancies between the RMA image text and the gazetteer/stele are highlighted in yellow): 佛足碑 在大塔左侧。 按《西域記》云,摩竭陀國波吒釐精舍中有大石,釋迦雙足,其長一尺寸,廣六寸,千輻輪相,十指皆現,華文卍字,寶瓶魚劍之状,光明炳焕。昔佛北趣拘尸那城,示寂滅,回顧摩竭陀國,蹈此石,告阿難﹕“吾今最後,留此足跡,示眾生。有能見者,生大信心,贍禮供養,滅無量罪,常生佛前。云云。后外道辈嫉心除之愈显。如是八番,文彩如故。”唐贞观中,玄奘法师自西域图写持歸,太宗敕令刻石祖庙,以福邦家。至明万历壬午秋。少林嗣祖沙门威县明成、德州如意,一夕一梦莲花,一梦月轮现于塔际。既觉,各言所梦,异之。及晓,少室僧正道持佛足图贻之。及展,见是双轮印相,喜曰:“此梦真也。”遂倾囊,兼募众立石,时孟秋既望也。是夕,众闻空中珠佩杂乐之声。出户视之,神灯点点,此圣神嘉赞也。镇澄赞:“巍巍大雄,浩劫忘功。神超化外,迹云寰中。刹尘混入,念劫融通。开兹觉道,扇以真风,竭诸有海,烁彼空濛。岩中留影,石上遗踪。碎身作宝,永益群首。稽首佛陀,悲愿何穷。 Fo zu bei zai data zuoce. An <Xiyueji> yun, mojietuo guo bozha’ao jingshe zhong you dashi, shijiafo suo yi shuangzu ji, qi chang yichi liu cun, guang liucun, qian fu lun xiang, shi zhi jiexian, huawen 卍 zi, baoping yujian zhi zhuang, guangming bing huan. Xi fo bei qu ju shi na cheng, jiang shi jimie, huigu mojietuo guo, dao ci shi shang, gao A’nan yan: “wu jin zuihou, liu ci zuji, yi shi zhongsheng. You neng jian zhe, sheng da xingxin, zhanli gongyang, mie wuliang zui, chang sheng fo qian. Yun yun. Hou wai dao bei ji xin chu zhi yu xian. Ru shi ba fan, wen cai ru gu. ” Tang Zhenguan zhong, Xuanzang fashi zi xiyu tu xie chi gui, Taizong ji ling ke shi zumiao, yi fu bang jia. Zhi min Wanli renwu qiu. Shaolin sizu shamenwei xian Mincheng, Dezhou Ruyi, yi xi yi meng lianhua, yi meng yue lun xian yu ta ji. Ji jue, ge yan suo meng, yi zhi. Ji xiao, shao zhi seng zhengdao chi fozutu yizhi. Jizhan, jian shi shuanglun yinxiang, xi yue: “ci meng zhen ye.” Sui qin nang, jian mo zhong li shi, shi meng qiu ji wang ye. Shi xi, zong wen kong zhong zhu pei za yue zhi sheng. Chu hu shi zhi, shen deng dian dian, ci shengshen jia zhan ye. Zhencheng zan: “wei wei da xiong, hao jie wang gong. Shen chao hua wai, ji yun huan zhong. Sha chun hun ru, nian jie rong tong. Kai zi jue dao, shan yi zhen feng, jie zhu you hai, shuo bi kong meng. Yan zhong liu ying, shi shang ji zong. Sui shen zuo bao, yong yi qun shou. Ji shou fotuo, bei yuan he qiong. Also see: Siegbert Hummel, “Die Fusspur des Gautama-Buddha auf dem Wu-T’ai-Shan,” Asiatische Studien /Etudes Asiatiques 25 (1971): 389-406.
[153] Xuanzang (玄奘), Datang xiyu ji (大唐西域記). Xuanzang’s (c. 596-664) record of his seventeen-year long trip to India, where he went to study and gather Buddhist scriptures. Written in 646 at the behest of the emperor, Xuanzang’s journey through over one hundred and thirty-eight states in Central Asia and India, remains one of our most valuable records of those regions in the seventh century.
[154] Sahasrāra, cakra-caraṇatā: the second of the thirty-two marks (lakṣaṇa) of a great personage or perfected being.
[155] The fourth of the auspicious signs in the footprint of Buddha.
[156] The four kinds of minor marks found on the feet among the eighty minor marks of a Tathāgata.
[157] An ancient kingdom and city, near Kasiah, one hundred eighty miles north of Patna; the place where Śākyamuni died.
[158] 按《西域記》云,摩竭陀國波吒釐精舍中有大石,釋迦如來所履,雙跡猶存,其長一尺八寸,廣六寸,俱有千輻輪相,十指皆現,華文卍字,寶瓶魚劍之状。昔者如來趣拘尸那城,将示寂滅,回顧此石,告阿難曰﹕“吾今最後,留此足跡,示末世眾生。若得親見,信心。贍禮供養者,滅無量生死重罪,常生人天勝處,福壽延年,遠諸惡事,常獲吉祥。”玄裝法師西域請來刻石供養。欽命總理五臺山大喇嘛阿王老藏捐貲畫利。 An <Xiyueji> yun, mojietuo guo bozha’ao jingshe zhong you dashi, Shijia Rulai suolv, shuangji you cun, qi chang yichi bacun, guang liucun, ju you qian fu lun xiang, shizhi jiexian, huawen 卍 zi, baoping yujian zhi zhuang. Xi zhe Rulai qu ju shi na cheng, jiang shi jimie, huigu cishi, gao Anan yue: “wu jin zuihou, liu ci zuji, shi mo shi zhongsheng. Ruo de qinjian, xingxin. Zhan li gongyang zhe, mie wuliang shengsi zhongzui, changsheng ren tian sheng chu, fu shou yan nian, yuan zhu e shi, chang huo ji xiang.” Xuanzang fashi zi xiyu qing lai keshi gongyang. Qin ming zongli Wutai shan dalama Awang Laozang juan ci hua li. Thanks to Wang Yudong for his help in correcting my transcription and translation of this abraded text.
[159] This painting is part of a larger set depicting the previous incarnations of the Penchen LamaPaṇ chen bla ma, one of the main hierarchs of the GelukDge lugs monastic order. On this composition also see Giuseppe Tucci, Tibetan Painted Scrolls, I and II (rpt. Kyoto: Rinsen Book Co., 1980), 414.
[160] rje btsun chos kyi rgyal po tsong kha pas/ rdo rje ’jigs byed dbang dang gdams pa gnang/ phyag drug mgon po bsnyen bsgrub be bum la/ lhad zhugs bsal mdzad mkhas grub dge legs dpal//.
[161] It is possible that the five forms of Mañjuśrī may be related to TsongkhapaTsong kha pa’s five visions of Mañjuśrī.
[162] For a brief discussion of the historicity of Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita visiting Wutai shan, see above essay and footnote 40.
[163] In 1732 SituSi tu set up a workshop for painters and had the artist Trinlé RappelPhrin las rab ’phel of KarshöKar shod trace and sketch older painting(s) of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas originally painted by the great artist Könchok PendéDkon mchog phan bde of ÉE. Könchok PendéDkon mchog phan bde was a painter of the MenriSman ris school who had been active over one century earlier as court artist of the Ninth KarmapaKarma pa and teacher of Namkha TrashiNam mkha’ bkra shis, founder of the Encampment painting tradition. The tracings of his paintings were then painted by artists from KarshöKar shod at SituSi tu’s request. Not only does this set point to the existence of strong Chinese figural and compositional elements in pre-Encampment style painting in the court of the Ninth KarmapaKarma pa in the sixteenth century but also indicates what kind of models SituSi tu selected in the revival of this artistic style. See David Jackson, Patron & Painter: Situ Panchen and the Revival of the Encampment Style (New York, NY: Rubin Museum of Art, 2009), 10-11, 121-23, and 223.
[164] Yeshe Tsogyal, The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1978); Gustave-Charles Toussaint, Le Dict de Padma: Padma Thang yig Ms. de Lithang, Bibliothèque de l’Institut des Hautes Études Chinoises 3 (Paris: Librairie Ernest Leroux, 1933), 152-54; cited by Köhle, “Why Did the Kangxi Emperor Go to Wutai Shan?” M. A. Thesis, 10, fn. 14.
[165] Desi Sanggyé GyatsoSde srid sangs rgyas rgya mtsho, Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings: Illuminated Manuscripts from the White Beryl of Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho: With the Moonbeams Treatise of Lo chen Dharmaśrī, commentary and translation by Gyurme Dorje (London: John Eskenasi, 2001), 19-59.
[166] A set of seven paintings of this unusual theme, otherwise unknown to me in Tibetan Buddhism, can be found in the Palace Museum in Beijing. Thanks to Jeff Watt for this identification and bringing this set in Beijing to my attention. Another painting in the RMA collection of Mañjuśrī Arapachana C2006.31.5 (HAR 65662) with narrative scenes in the corners, each labeled; may belong to a related thematic set.
[167] There is also a painting of Maitreya in the Rubin Museum of Art (C2006.66.34 HAR 1111) of similar size and general appearance in the RMA which has been identified by some as belonging to the same set (see for instance: http://www.himalayanart.org/image.cfm?icode=1111), and it has even been suggested that both these works date to the Tangut period (eleventh to early thirteenth century). However in comparing these two paintings closely one notices that the painters who produced the Maitreya composition had a good grasp of how a Chinese landscape is built up with layers of ink, using specific specialized brush techniques, such as the “axe” texture stroke, while the painters of the Mañjuśrī painting here employ no recognizable Chinese brushwork in this simple blue-green landscape of only distant Chinese inspiration, such as can be seen in the rocks framing the foreground. Also, as already noted in Rhie and Thurman (Marylin Rhie and Robert Thurman, eds., Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion [New York, NY: Tibet House, 1999], 198-200, no. 33), the composition of the landscape in the Maitreya painting is more consistent with paintings of Chinese forms of Avalokiteśvara, such as Water Moon Guanyin (Shuiyue Guanyin, 水月观音), opening even this identification of the central deity to question. It is almost as if within the same workshop there are two sets of painters at work, one Chinese-trained who provided the ink landscape and the three large attendant figures at the bottom (such as the boy sudhana), and another Tibetan-trained who painted the main figure of this red Maitreya, bearing his distinctive identifying attributes stūpa and ewer, as well as the surrounding narrative scenes. Evidence of this hypothesis is visible on the main figure, where green pigment has abraded away to reveal the same Tibetan painting notations visible in the Mañjuśrī painting presented here. The early dating of these paintings to the eleventh-early thirteenth century also seems unlikely, for while certain archaic forms such as the hats of the attendant figures in the Mañjuśrī painting do appear, the landscape conventions employed are consistent with much later Chinese painting, such as those of the eighteenth century.

Note Citation for Page

Karl Debreczeny, “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): , http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).

Note Citation for Whole Article

Karl Debreczeny, “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 1-133, http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).

Bibliography Citation

Debreczeny, Karl. “Wutai Shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 1-133. http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5714 (accessed ).