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Paintings > Thangka > Chenrezig
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Tibetan Thangka Painting

Size of Painted Surface 15.5 inches X 21.5 inches
Size with Brocade 27.0 inches X 37.0 inches
Item Code:
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Viewed 5597 times since 5th Oct, 2010
This lavishly ornamented bodhisattva with four arms is a form of Avalokiteshvara that is the personification of Tibet's most sacred mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. Due to his association with this mantra, in Tibetan Buddhism Avalokiteshvara is also called Shadakshari, which means "Lord of the Six Syllables." Recitation of this mantra along with prayer beads, is the most popular religious practice in Tibetan Buddhism. The connection between this famous mantra and Avalokiteshvara occurs for the first time in the Karandavyuha Sutra. This text is first dated to around the late 4th century CE to the early 5th century CE. In this sutra, a bodhisattva is told by the Buddha that recitation of this mantra while focusing on the sound can lead to the attainment of eight hundred samadhis.

Avalokiteshvara is seated here in the classic meditation posture on a lotus with his principal hands in the salutation gesture. The remaining hands hold a rosary and lotus respectively. Wearing a charming smile on his face, the bodhisattva here has been conceived with handsome proportions and an elegant presence.

The Lotus Sutra (Skt. Saddharma Pundarika Sutra) is generally accepted to be the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokitesvara. These are found in the Lotus Sutra chapter 25, The Universal Gateway of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. This chapter is devoted to Avalokiteshvara, describing him as a compassionate bodhisattva who hears the cries of sentient beings, and who works tirelessly to help those who call upon his name. A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokiteshvara are described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various beings. The chapter consists of both a prose and a verse section. This earliest source often circulates separately as its own sutra, called the Avalokiteshvara Sutra, and is commonly recited or chanted at Buddhist temples in Asia.

At the bottom of the painting can be seen Manjushri and Vajrapani. At the top corners are the Two Taras - Green and White. At the top centre is Amitabha Buddha, from whom Avalokiteshvara is said to have emanated.


In Tibetan iconography, the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara has three principal forms:  

Padmapani Avalokiteshvara with Wisdomfire Aureole
Chenrezig (Shadakshari Avalokiteshvara)
Thousand Arms of Compassion
With two arms, known as Padampani (lotus-bearer) Avalokiteshvara. With four arms, known as Chenresig. With one-thousand arms and eleven heads, known as Sahsrabhuja Lokeshvara.

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