The Buddha on Tibetan paintings always has a human aspect. The colour of Ihe body of a Buddha is usually golden. J lis head shows a protuberance (Skrt. Usni sa) on the skull, and a sign (Skrt. ürnä) between the eyebrows. lie has always a monastic appearance. His monastic robe is of a red-brown color, the rig h t shoulder is sometimes uncovered. Frequently he is seen having his robe thrown on both shoulders, the chest uncovered : this is often the case on Tibetan paintings.
A Buddha is also distinguished by the total absence of ornaments. Such is the type of Buddha created by the Gandhära school, which penetrated into ail the posterior schools of art. In this collection there are several paintings representing the Exalted One. The following paintings : Pl. I, II, HI, IV and V, represent the Buddha surrounded by sixteen Arhats. Before describing each banner in detail, a short in troduction is necessary, which w ill help us to appreciate the images more thoroughly in their artistic and religious significance.
The group of sixteen Arhats is unknown in India proper, but its cult has spread widely over Tibet and China. In buddhist texts, translated into Chinese about the lVth century A .D ., we find a group of four Arhats, namely : Pindola, Mahâkâçyapa, Rähula, and Kundopadhänlya, corresponding to the four cardinal points of space. This group of Four Great Arhats probably created on the analogy to the four king-guardians of the four cardinal points of space. Then, gradually, to each of these four Arhats four others were added, thus b rin g in g the total number to sixteen. (Cf. S. Lévi and E. Chavannes, Les seize Arhat Protecteurs de la Loi, J. As., 1916, II, p. 27З.) The first of these Arhats, Pindola, was w idely venerated in China. The fact is made evident by a great number of legends
concerning him. His cult probably reached China by sea in the middle of the fifth century, A. D. The first mention of the group of sixteen great Arhats is found in a short mahäyänist text entitled « Account of the duration of the
Law, declared by the Great Arhat Nandimitra » (Ta A-lo-han Nan-t’i-mi-to-lo so shuo fa chu chi). The text is translated by S. Levi and E. Chavannes in the article cited above (pp. 6-24).
It is related in this text how the Great Arhat Nandimitra, before entering into the final Nirvana, assembled all the monks and nuns and told them of the existence of the sixteen Great Arhats and of their future manifestations.
We give a short account of the content of the text, because of its great beauty.
The duty of the Great Arhats is to preserve the Law after the death of the Master, the Buddha. Having been entrusted by the Exalted One w ith the preservation of the Law, they have prolonged their lives and remained on this earth. Each of these Arhats dwells in an appointed place, hidden from ordinary mortals, silently
keeping guard over the Law. When in the mind of pious people o rig in ates a good thought or when they perform meritorious actions, — the Arhats manifest themselves unto them. When the life of men* in the southern Jambudvlpa
reaches the length of ten years, there w ill come the time of wars and destruction. The Good Law w ill disappear. After this period w ill come the time when men live a hundred years. Men w ill again strive for good, and the
sixteen Arhats w ill manifest themselves in the world. They shall preach the Law, and w ill save multitudes of people. The time w ill then come when men live 60.000 years, The Law w ill spread over the whole world. After this
period comes the time when men live 70.000 years. In this period the Law w ill disappear. The sixteen great Arhats w ith their retinue w ill again manifest themselves on this earth. By their magical power they w ill erect a stupa, adorned with Seven Jewels. Under this stüpa they shall place all that remains of the earthly body of Çâkyamuni, the Tathägata, the Arhat, the Supreme Buddha.
In a lofty procession they w ill make the round of the stüpa, honouring it with perfume and flowers. When the rite of contemplative admiration is fulfilled, they w ill all rise into the air, and, facing the stüpa, they w ill pronounce the following words: « Hommage to the Exalted One, the Çâkya, the Tathägata, the Arhat, the Supreme Buddha ! We had received the order to protect the Law, and to perform meritorious actions for the benelit of men and gods. The vessel of the Law comes to its end, the cycle of causality is linished. Now we take leave to
enter into the Nirvana without end. » According to a former vow, a flame will rise and consume their bodies. As the dying llamc of a lamp, their bodies will disappear without leaving any trace, t he stüpa w ill sink below the surface of the earth. The Law of the Exalted One w ill disappear forever. A great number of Pratyekabuddhas w ill make their appearance. Then w ill come the time, when men’s lives w ill have the length of 80.000 years and the assembly of Pratyekabuddhas in its turn w ill enter into Nirvana.
After this the Buddha of the future time, Maitreya, the Tathägata, the Arhat, the Samyaksambuddha w ill appear in this world. The rest of the text contains a description of the future world, similar to those found in Bütras
on the coming of Maitreya. Cf. Maitreya-Samiti (the oriental iranian version) edited by E. Leumann (Strassburg, 1919, part 1, verse 113 and lo ll. ; also.
Demieville, in the Bulletin de l ’Ecole Française d’Extrème-Orient, XX, IV, pp. 158-170). We propose to make a special study of the cult of Maitreya.
Let us turn now to the detailed study of the paintings. On the banner Nr. 1 (2o4 x 13 3/ 4), we see the Exalted One surrounded by sixteen great Arhats and assisted by his two great disciples, Çâriputra and Maudgalyäyana, who are seen standing on both sides of the throne ; in front of the throne we see Hva-çang and Dharmatala, the two religious supporters. The Lord Buddha is seated in the middle on a lotus throne (Padmäsana). In front of the throne is placed the Wheel of the Law with different offerings on a kind of altar. In the lower corners of the banner wee see the four king-guardians of the four cardinal points of space. Note the unusual pose of Virüdhaka, king of the southern region, in the left corner. The color scheme of the paintings is red-golden on a greenish background. The upper cloth of the Arhats is ycllowr with golden embroidery, the undercloth is red.
The following scheme will facilitate the description. The numbers on it do not correspond to those of the Tibetan list of Arhats. We shall mention every time the place of the Arhat in the Tibetan list :
1. The Arhat Angaja (Tib. Yan-lag-’ byun). The Elder dwells on Mount Ti-se (Kailasa). His attribute are a fan and inccnse-burner. He is the first of the Tibetan list.
2. Bakula (Tib. Ba-ku-la). The Elder dwells in Uttarakuru, the northern region. llis attribute is a rat vomitting a jewel. He is the ninth of the Tibetan list. (This attribute is a sufficient proof that Bakula is an alteration of Nakula, given by the Chinese lists. Nakula means in sanskrit « ichneumon », and also « purse », because purses were made with the skin of the animal. — P. Pelliot).
3. Vajrlputra. (Tib. rDo-rje mo’i bu). He dwells in Ceylan (Simhaladvlpa). He is bolding the fan in his left hand ; the right hand is raised. He is the fifth of the Tibetan list.
4. Badhra (Tib. Bzan-po). The Elder dwells in Yamunadvlpa. Ilis attribute is usually a book ; on our painting he is seen in meditation. He is the sixth of the Tibetan list.
5. Kanakabharadvaja (Tib. Bha-ra-dva-dsa gser-can). He dwells in Aparago- danl. He is seen in meditation, lie is the eighth of Tibetan list.
6. Raliula (Tib. sGra-gcan ’dsin). He dwells in Priyangudvlpa. His attribute is a crown. He is the tenth of the Tibetan list.
7. Kalika (Tib. Dus-ldan). He dwells in Tamradvlpa. His attributes are two golden trinkets. He is the fourth of the Tibetan list.
8. Pindolabharadvaja (Tib. Bha-ra-dva-dsa bsod-snoms len). He dwells in Purvavideha. His attributes are the book and the bowl. We have already mentioned that this Arhat was widely venerated. Space does not permit us to relate the legends concerning him (). He is the twelfth of the Tibetan list.
9. Ajita (Tib. Ma-pham-pa). He dwells on mount Uglra. He is seen in meditation, the head covered by his upper garment. He is the second of the Tibetan list.
10. Panthaka (Tib. Lam-bstan). He dwells in the Trayaslrimgas heaven. His attribute is a book. He is the thirteenth of the Tibetan list.
11. Vanavasi (Tib. Nags-na gnas). He dwells in the SaptaparnI cave. His attribute is a fan. lie is the third of the Tibetan list.
12. Nagasena (Tib. kLu’i sde). He dwells on Mount Vipulapargva. llis attributes are a vase and the stick called khakkhara. (Tib. ’Khar-gsil). He is the fourteen]i of the Tibetan list.
13. Kanakavatsa (Tib. gSer-be’u). He dwells in Kagmlra. His attribute is a lasso, lie is the seventh of the Tibetan list.
14. Gopaka (Tib. sBed-byed). lie dwells on Mount Vatsa. His attribute is a book, lie is the fifteenth of the Tibtean list.
15. Cudapanthaka (Tib. Lam-phran-bslan. lie dwells on Mount Grdhra- kiila ; he is seen meditating, lie is the eleventh of the Tibetan list.
16. Abheda (Tib. Mi-phved). He dwells on the Himalayas. His attribute is a stupa. He is the sixteenth of the Tibetan list.
The group of sixteen great Arhats is assisted by Ilva-cang and Dharmatala, called in Tibetan « religious supporters » (bstan-pa’i sbyin-bdag). The two last named belong to the popular religion of China, this being evident by the fact that they are considered to be able to master the Dragon and the Tiger — two symbols current in Taoism. There can be little doubt that they were introduced into the group of sixteen Arhats in China and that the new ly constituted group reached Tibet from China (*). They are not considered to be Arhats in Tibet : this is made clear by their dress. The upasaka Dharma (Tib. dGa-bsnen Dharma) is regularly represented with long hair, wearing the costume of a laic. On our painting he is seen standing, holding a fan and a vessel. Note a kind of string ( it may be the smoke from the incense contained in the vessel) which connects him with a small figure of the Dhyani-Buddha Amitabha, seen a little above the altar. His favourite animal, the tiger, is seen at his side. Dharmatala, or Dhar- matrata, was a celebrated doctor of the Hinayana, the compiler of the Udana- varga, a collection of verses in Sanskrit corresponding to the Pali Dhamma- pada. Hva-gang is a transcription of the Chinese huo-shang, which in its turn turn comes back to the Skrt. upadhyaya, « preceptor », through the intermediary of a Khotanese form (**). The title is an ordinary designation of a monk in Chinese Buddhism. In Tibet the name Hva-gang is applied to the Chinese monk who came to Tibet during the reign of king Kri-sron Ide-btsan to preach the Mahayana. His full name in Tibetan Buddhism is Hva-gang Mahayana. He is represented on our banner holding a rosary and a conch. Round him are seen children at play. Ilva-gang is usually personified in religious dances performed by the lamas.
The paintings Nrs. 2 (2З i/4xi6 i/4) and 3 (2З i/4xi6 i/4) belong to a group of seven banners representing the Buddha surrounded by the Great Arhats. The middle one, on which the Exalted One was undoubtedly represented, is missing. Both paintings are well executed. On banner Nr. 2 we see represented the Arhats Kanakavatsa and Cudapanthaka. They are assisted by Hva- gang. For all details see the description of the painting Nr. т. In the upper corners are seen the green Tara and the goddess Sitatapatra. In the lower corners we see Virudhaka and Dhrtarastra. Virudhaka is attended by a kumbhanda. Dhrtarastra has at his side a playing gandharva. (Shigatse School.) The paint- in Nr. 3 represents the Arhats Panthaka and Abheda. They are assisted by Dharmatala, who is seated, holding an umbrella. In the upper corners are seen the white Tara and the goddess Usnlsavijaya. In the lower corners we see Virupaksa and Vaigravana. A Naga is presenting Virupaksa with a conch. A yaksa is offering a basket of fruits to Vaigravana ().
The banner Nr. 4 (s4 1/2×16 3/4) is particularity interesting for its technique. The presence of a camel and the Mongolian costume of the two men offering flowers and fruit seem to indicate the east tibetan origin of our banner. The style is very different from the others already described. We are of the opinion that the painting is the work of a Derge artist. The Arhats represented are: Ajita, who is seen seated on a throne ; a strange looking creature is presenting him fruit; Kalika, seen seated on a throne, having in front of him a pair of shoes and a table with his bowl standing on it ; two men, possibly Mongols, are offering him flowers and fruit. Vanavasi, seated on a mat a forest- dweller is offering him a basket with fruit. In the upper corners of the banner are seen a Tara and an Avalokitegvara.
Because of its style, we consider the painting Nr. 5 (22 3/Axi5 1/2) to belong to the same group as painting Nr. Д. We see the Exalted One seated on the lotus throne. In his left hand he is holding his alms bowl, with his right hand he is making the sign of attestation. In front of the throne is seen an altar with the Wheel of the Law 011 it. The back of the throne is richly ornamented. On (he top of it we see the bird Garuda (Tib. Khyun). In front of the altar are two deities, one presenting the Wheel of the Law, the other a kind of conch. On the top of the painting we see the future Buddha, Maitreya, with two lotus flowers supporting a amrta vessel, and a Wheel of the Law , and the Buddha Dlpankara (Tib. xMarme-mdsad). rlhe Exalted One is attended by his two great disciples (^ariputra and Maudgalyayana.
Painting Nr. 6 (28×21) represents (^akyamuni seated on a lotus throne. With his left hand the Buddha is holding the alms bowl, with his right hand he is making the sign of attestation. The color of the body is golden ; the monastic robe is thrown on both shoulders, leaving the chest uncovered. The robe is of a yellow color, the lower garment (Pali : antaravasaka) is red with golden embroidery. The inside circle of the nimbus round the head is green, the outside one is violet, the halo round the body is blue and yellow, radiating with golden rays. In front of the throne arc seen the Wheel of the Law and a pond witli loluses. The Buddha is surrounded by his eight spiritual sons (ne- ba’i sras-ehen brgyad-pa). On the top of the painting are seen the Dhyani- Buddha Amitabha; Vaidurya-raja, the Buddha of Medicine; the goddess dMag- zorma, a fearful form of CrldevI (Tib. dPal—ldan lha-1110). She is seen holding the cup Kapala and brandishing the club. To the right is seen the goddess Ma-cig dpal lhamo, a benign form of Qiidevl. The goddess is holding the banner, and a basket filled with fruit.
On the lower part of the painting are seen Kuvera, the god of riches, riding a white lion and holding the banner, and the mungoosc, vomiting the jewel ; the color of the body is golden ; this form of Kuvera is called in Tibetan zNam-sras-gser-chcn ; Mahakala, under the form of the « Protector of the Tent », (Tib. Gur-gyi mgon-po) ; and the goddess Vasudhara (Tib. Nor- ’dsin ser-mo), the gakti of Kuvera ; the color of the goddess is golden ; she is seen holding in her six hands the sword, the wheel of life, the book, the llower, and a basket of fruit ; one of the hands makes the sign of charity.