using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 10 70 Inside Art with Denise Leidy Sanskrit texts written on long narrow leaves of the talipot palm, which were produced in northeast India, Bangla- desh, and Nepal, played an important role in the trans- mission of Buddhism to the Himalayas and Central Asia. Although the majority of the pages contain only text, some are embellished with miniature paintings, which are among the earliest examples of paintings from the subcontinent. The manuscripts were produced during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, an important period in Buddhist history marked by an emphasis on the development of spiritual insight (as opposed to information), and by the flowering of practices that would later become the linchpin of various Tibetan tradi- tions. Nearly all the existing examples of such palm leaf manu- scripts record one of the Perfection of Wisdom manuscripts, or Prajnaparamita Sutras, which were composed between 100 BCE and 100 CE. These texts, which emphasize the bodhi- sattva state as the highest form of attainment, are still the basis of training for Tibetan monks, and for Mahayana practitioners generally. One of the more intriguing aspects of these Perfection of Wisdom manuscripts is that none of the illustrations found in them matches the texts. The three pages shown here, which are not in sequence, have decorated borders with stupas and floral scrolls, and represent three different manifestations of the goddess Tara, one of the first female deities to be shown in Indian Buddhist art, and an extremely important deity in Tibetan practices. On one page, she is in her green manifestation, has two Perfection of Wisdom Manuscripts DENISE LEIDY is a curator of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the author of The Art of Buddhism. (Opposite) Three pages from a dispersed Perfection of Wisdom manuscript India (West Bengal) or Bangladesh Pala period, early 12th century Opaque watercolor on palm leaf, each 23⁄4 x 161⁄2 inches The Metropolitan Museum of Art arms, holds a blue lotus, and is attended by two smaller fig- ures, possibly Bhrikuti, another female deity associated with wisdom practices, and the protective Vajrapani. Tara sits beneath an arch that is set within a gold, tiered pyramid, which stands before a background of lush, colorful plants. The scene is beautifully painted and characterized by a careful rendering of clothing, jewelry, and other details such as the red, white, and blue textile pattern shared by the three pages shown here. The second page shows a woman standing beneath a tree and reaching up to touch the branches while supported by two smaller attendants. This is a common posture in Indian art and is often used to depict fertility spirits (yakshis), as well as the birth of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. However, the woman here is green, has the same two attendants shown in the previous page, and is tentatively identified as Tara bestowing blessings, both spiritual and material, on the numerous smaller figures at the left. The identity of the smaller figures is also unclear; however, they are all barely clad and may represent ascetics, such as the mahasiddhas, or yogis, whose unorthodox practices were later incorporated into Vajrayana. The third page shows Tara in her manifestation as Kuru- kulla, a powerful deity that only rarely appears in sculptures and other works from India. In this form, she has a red body, four arms, and is dancing on a supine figure symbolic of obstacles, such as egotism and jealousy, that must be over- come in the quest for enlightenment. Kurukulla dances within a golden structure composed of narrow staves that are most likely intended to represent a mountain, a device found in Indian, Tibetan, and Central Asian painting in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. PURCHASE,LILAACHESONWALLACEGIFT,2001,2001.445B,I,C