Antique Tibetan Thangka Life of the Buddha ABA51

From the mid 19th century, this museum quality Tibetan Thangka depicts the life of the Buddha, divided into ‘the 12 glorious events’. Written in Sanskrit (the ancient sacred language of India) at the bottom of the painting is the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion – OM MANI PADME HUM. This mantra embodies the essence of the endless compassion that the Buddha has for all beings. It is said by Tibetans that any child who can say the word ‘mother’ can also recite this mantra, being so embedded in the Tibetan consciousness.

The painting is originally from a Tibetan monastery in Ladakh, a sparsely populated region in the Indian Himalaya. Its history and culture are closely related to Tibet, with almost half of Ladakhis being Tibetan Buddhists. It has been skillfully painted using mineral and plant based pigments as well as gold on cotton. Thangkas are traditionally rolled and regularly unfurled when being used to relate the life of the Buddha, using highly visual representations; consequently there is some superficial wear as shown in the photographs provided. The beautiful deep colours in this antique thangka stand in stark contrast to the bright colours of newly painted Thangkas. The 12 glorious events in the life of the Buddha:

1. His promise to take birth in the human realm and guide sentient beings from ignorance to enlightenment.
2. Queen Maya’s Dream that a white elephant approached and touched her right side with its trunk. Through this symbolic act, the Bodhisattva entered the womb of Mayadevi and impregnated her.
3. The birth of Buddha.
4. A youth dedicated to the mastery of learning and athletics.
5. The skillful conduct of worldly affairs.
6. The Four Encounters: old age, sickness, death, a wandering ascetic.
7. The renunciation of worldly life in search for Truth as a mendicant.
8. Six years of austerities: starvation, disappointment, realization of the middle way.
9. The defeat of Mara: the Buddha permanently overcame fear and desire (ignorance) by burning illusion with the inquiring flame of pure awareness.
10. The proclamation of the teachings: famously the Eight Fold Noble Path.
11. The descent from the Trayatrimsa Heaven where Buddha visited his mother.
12. The passage into Parinirvana, leaving his mortal body.

Height: 51.5cm, 20.2 in
Width: 41cm, 16 in
Material: mineral and plant pigments, gold, cotton

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