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Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Overall: 106.9 x 46.4 cm (42 1/16 x 18 1/4 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2009.342.3
Samantabhadra, the bodhisattva of universal virtue, is mounted on a six-tusked white elephant standing on lotus flowers.
This triptych is a rare example of Yuan Buddhist painting. The center panel depicts the historic Buddha Shakyamuni flanked by two attending bodhisattvas. The right panel features Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, riding a lion. This panel, which hangs on the left, features Samantabhadra, the bodhisattva of universal virtue, riding an elephant. Included in the symmetrical configuration are also the two disciples of the Buddha, Ananada and Kasyapa, two foreigners who attend the bodhisattvas’ lion and elephant, and a youth and a female worshiper, all of whom seek enlightenment from the bohisattvas.
The clouds above and around the divine beings form one scene that illustrates Shakyamuni’s sermon from the Lotus Sutra. This text became an important basis for Buddhist faith throughout East Asia and was central to the Mahayana school of Buddhism.
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