ARTEFACTS

Shakyamuni and the Eight Stupas

  • Бурхан багш / Шагжтүв / Шагжимаан Шажимаан, Бурхан багшийн найман суврагa / Burxan bagš / Šagǰtüw / Šagǰimaan / Šaǰimaan /Sanǰaa, Burxan bagšiin naiman suwraga
  • Sigemüni,naiman suburγan
  • Shākya thub pa,mchod rten brgyad
  • Śākyamuni, aṣṭamahācaitya
  •  
  • Thangka
  • 19th century
  • Pigment on cotton
  • Height: 41 cm / Width: 29 cm / Depth: not filled
  • Collection: Hans Leder, Inv. Nr.: 3585
  • Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig
  • © Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig/ ÖAW
  •  
This print is dedicated to the eight great stupas that commemorate the eight main events in Buddhas life. It starts with the ‘stupa of heaped lotusses’ (Tib. pad spungs mchod rten) symbolizing the birth of Siddhartha who later would become known as the ‘awakened one’ (Skt. Buddha). It is depicted as the left of both central stupas in the upper row. The right one, known as the ‘stupa of enlightenment’ (Tib. byang chub mchod rten), commemorates the event when he ‘fully awakened’ under a tree in Bodh Gaya. Then he gave his first sermon, an event that became known as the ‘turning the wheel of the dharma’ or the ‘opening the doors of the dharma.’ It is remembered by a stupa called the ‘stupa of many doors of bliss’ (Tib. bkra shis sgo mang mchod rten) that is depicted to the left of the upper row of stupas. The stupa on the right side of the same row, however, points out to the subsequent events when his state of realization was questioned by some heretical teachers and Buddha demonstrated the truth of his statements by performing miracles in public. It is represented by a stupa known as the ‘stupa of miracles’ (Tib. cho ’phrul mchod rten). When Mayadevi, Buddha’s mother, passed away, she was reborn in Tushita Heaven. As she died shortly after his birth, she could not hear the teachings her son gave after his enlightenment. Thus, he went to her in her celestial realm, taught her the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path and returned to earth. It is commemorated by the ‘stupa of the descent from Tushita heaven’ (Tib. lha babs mchod rten) which can be seen in the lower row, the right of central pair of stupas. During his life-time, the monastic community of ordained monks grew but at one point there was considerable disagreement among them and the risk of schism arose. Then Buddha successfully reconciled all parties. This main event is symbolized by the ‘stupa of reconciliation’ (Tib. dbyen bsdum mchod rten) that can found to the right side of the lower row. Later in his life When Buddha’s was about to die, he was begged by his followers to stay and not to pass away. Accordingly, Buddha extended his life-time by three months. The ‘all-victorious stupa’ (Tib. rnam rgyal mchod rten), that can be seen as the left of the central pair of stupas, embodies this event. Later he passed away, entering nirvana. this last event in his life is marked by a stupa known as ‘parinirvana stupa’ (Tib. myang ’das mchod rten). The stupas on this print all bear Tibetan inscriptions, giving their respective names. With the exception of the ‘stupa of enlightenment’ (Tib. byang chub mchod rten), all stupas have written the three syllables “Om ah hum” written in Tibetan on he middle part of the square base. The Buddhas of Three Times, namely Shakyamuni (middle), Dipamkara (right) and Maitreya (left), all three accompanied by the three syllables “Om ah hum” written in Tibetan, are placed in the space between the four stupas of the upper row. Similarly, the space between the four stupas of the lower row is taken by Atisha (middle), White Tara (right) and Green Tara (left). Equally, all three are accompanied by the three syllables “Om ah hum” written in Tibetan. A long inscription is given in the lower half of the print, giving several mantras such as the “Hundred Syllables Mantra” of Amitayus.
© Olaf Czaja
Shakyamuni and the Eight Stupas
/ Mongolia / 19th century / Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig / © Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig/ ÖAW

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