early 17th century

Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art

The meditation deity Akshobhyavajra, described in the Secret Assembly (Guhyasamaja) Tantra, symbolically unites the Five Buddha Families. Three-headed, six-armed, holding a vajra and bell, and embracing a consort, he represents the ultimate form of Buddha Akshobhya and the unification of method and wisdom that allows one to overcome duality.

In this painting many of the stylistic elements, including the faces, the scrollwork background, and the hierarchical organization, are reminiscent of early Tibetan art. In contrast, the fullness of the deities' garments and their patterns--such as the Chinese-inspired flowers and clouds--the gilding of all the figures, and the sense of movement are more recent developments that emerged with the Khyenri painting tradition in the fifteenth century.

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  • Title: Akshobhyavajra
  • Date: early 17th century
  • Date Created: early 17th century
  • Physical Dimensions: 30 x 23 in.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, F1997.31.13
  • Medium: Pigments on cloth
  • Place of Creation: Central Tibet
  • Exhibition History: Rubin Museum of Art, "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection" (03/11/11 - 01/09/12; 02/12/14 - 01/05/15), Rubin Museum of Art, "Red, Black and Gold" (05/02/08 - 11/10/08), Rubin Museum of Art, "What is It? Himalayan Art" (10/27/05 - 06/25/07), Rubin Museum of Art, "Methods of Transcendence" (10/02/04 - 01/11/05), Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, "Female Buddhas: Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mysticism" (09/14/02 - 04/15/03; 06/12/03 - 08/24/03), Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN, "Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion" (09/28/01 - 01/06/02), Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX, "Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion" (01/16/00 - 03/26/00), Tibet House Cultural Center, New York, NY, "Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion" (04/27/99 - 09/25/99)


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