ARTEFACTS

Shakyamuni with the eight types of 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
  •  
  • Painting
  • 19th century
  • Paper
  • Height: 18,7 cm / Width: 14,9 cm / Depth: not filled
  • Collection: Leder/ Umlauff, Inv. Nr.: 33697
  • Völkerkundemuseum vPST Heidelberg
  • © Völkerkundemuseum vPST Heidelberg/ ÖAW
  •  
Buddha Shakyamuni, absorbed in meditation, is surrounded by the eight great stupas that commemorate the eight main events in Buddhas life. A full description of this type of print was already made by Kazuo Kano for a print in the Leder collection in Hamburg. The architectual features of the stupas on this print in Hamburg allow a full identification of all eight stupas. Based on his research, one can identify them as follows. 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), depicted on the left side of the row at the top of this coloured print. Next to it, on right side, and hence directly above Buddha Shakyamni, is the ‘stupa of enlightenment’ (Tib. byang chub mchod rten), commemorating the event when he ‘fully awakened’ under a tree in Bodh Gaya. Later 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 on the left side in the middle of the coloured print. The stupa on the right side of the upper 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 left corner. 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 in the middle of the print. 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 central stupa of the lower row 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). It is placed in the lower right corner.
© Olaf Czaja
Shakyamuni with the eight types of stupas
/ Mongolia / 19th century / © Völkerkundemuseum vPST Heidelberg/ ÖAW

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