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Gilt bronze figure of Padma Sambhava


Height: 38.000 cm

Gift of C.A.W. Oldham, executor of Lady Holmwood

Asia OA 1942.4-16.1

Room 33: Asia

    Gilt bronze figure of Padma Sambhava

    From Tibet
    18th century AD

    An Indian master brings Tantric Buddhism to Tibet

    Padma Sambhava is one of the most eminent figures in Tibetan Buddhism. He is revered for bringing Tantric Buddhism to Tibet from northern India in the late eighth century AD. He is particularly venerated by the oldest schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingma-pa, who regard him as a 'second Buddha'. He was reputedly the son of the king of Uddiyana in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. He is remembered in Tibet as an exorcist of both demons and the enemies of Buddhism. The tradition of turning native Bon deities into protectors of Buddhism is supposed to have started with him.

    Padma Sambhava is shown here seated on a lotus throne in the rich robes of a prince. He holds a vajra in his right hand and in his left a vase of the elixir of immortality. On Padma Sambhava's hat is the sun-moon symbol of transcended duality and an eagle's feather, an ancient symbol of penetrating vision.

    W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism: art and faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

    R. Fisher, Art of Tibet (Thames and Hudson, 1997)