“Wutai shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain” Catalog
Cat. 1: Panoramic Map of Wutai shan
ṣerigün tungγalaγ aγula-yin oron-u jokiyal
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).
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.
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.
Trilingual Dedicatory Inscriptions
༄༅། །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
“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
“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  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.
Cat. 2: Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje (1717-1786)
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
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
Cat. 5: Large Stūpa
Cat. 6: Stūpa
Cat. 7: Stūpa
Cat. 8: Stūpa
Cat. 9: Stūpa
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.
Cat. 10: Deer Mask
Cat. 11: Bull-Head Yama Lord of Death Mask
གཤིན་རྗེ་ཆོས་རྒྱལ། Choijil Erlig qagan
Cat. 12: Mahākāla Mask
Cat. 13: Buddha Footprints
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
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.
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.
Cat. 15: KhedrupMkhas grub’s Vision of His Teacher TsongkhapaTsong kha pa
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.
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.
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.
Cat. 16: Svāyambhū Stūpa
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
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.
Cat. 18: Mañjuśrī
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
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
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)
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.
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
Cat. 23: Mañjuśrī Nāmasaṃgīti
Cat. 24: Mañjuśrī
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).
Cat. 25: Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita Künga GyentsenKun dga’ rgyal mtshan (1182-1251) and Chögyel PakpaChos rgyal ’phags pa
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.
Cat. 26: Sakya PenditaSa skya paṇḍita Künga GyentsenKun dga’ rgyal mtshan (1182-1251)
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)
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.
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)
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.
Cat. 29: TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419)
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.
Cat. 30: Illustrated Eight Thousand-Verse Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra
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.
Cat. 31: Book Cover
Cat. 32: Book Cover
Cat. 33: Book Cover
Cat. 34: Book Cover
Cat. 35: Book Cover
Cat. 36: Nāga King
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
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.
Cat. 38: Mañjuśrī
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.
Cat. 39: Mañjuśrī - Arapachana
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
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
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.
Cat. 42: Mañjuśrī
Cat. 43: Mañjuśrī
Cat. 44: Mañjuśrī
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
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.
Cat. 46: Mañjuśrī Nāmasaṃgīti
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
(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.
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 ).
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 ).
- The Mountain
- Early Political Significance
- Tibetan Identification with Wutai shan
- Tibetan Involvement with Wutai shan
- Tibetan and Mongolian Monasteries on Wutai shan
- Mongol Interests in Wutai shan
- “Wutai shan: Pilgrimage to Five-Peak Mountain” Catalog
- Specify View:
- Specify Format:
- Cite This Article
- Citation Help
- Back to Issue 6
- Back to JIATS