The Buddhist Lord Indra is a sight to behold. Beauteous and graceful, He is seated at the heart of Indraloka, the realm of existence (‘loka’) ruled by Himself. On the back of His trusty vahana He sits, as if floating in a sea of gold and ruby-coloured robes. The glittering gold of His adornments blends into the glacial complexion of His body. Shapely white feet emerge from the hems of His richly coloured robe. The gentle Airavata (the Sanskrt name translates to elephant) turns its head towards its lord and gazes with adoration at those feet.
Red and gold are the predominant colours that make up this thangka. From the five-spired crown and the karanakundalas that frame a contemplative face, to the gigantic halo emanating from the head. A core of deep crimson blends out into a gracious disc of gold. The aureole surrounding the seated figure has been executed with perfect symmetry and exceptionally high-precision handiwork. These are hallmarks of the traditional thangka. A red-bellied lotus with petals of gold, green, and blue is the asana of Lord Indra. Sprigs of golden flora, interspersed with pink and blue, surround the Indra-Airavata ensemble.
Zoom in on the upper corners of the painting. There is Amitabha Buddha to the right of Indra, Akshobhya Buddha to the left. In the foreground are Bodhisattva Maitreya and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, respectively. The blue- and pink-petalled lotuses of the ancillary deities contrast sharply with the predominant colours of this thangka.
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