Five Leaves from an Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita Manuscript. Leaf A: Prajnaparamita and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1073. Leaf B: Bodhisattva Manjushri and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1073. Leaf C: Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1151. Leaf D: Tara and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1151. Leaf E: Leaf with colophon
Pala period, c. 1073-1151
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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: Eastern Indian
Creator Active Place: Eastern Indian
Creator Name-CRT: Eastern Indian
Title: Five Leaves from an Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita Manuscript. Leaf A: Prajnaparamita and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1073. Leaf B: Bodhisattva Manjushri and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1073. Leaf C: Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1151. Leaf D: Tara and Scenes of the Buddha's Life, c. 1151. Leaf E: Leaf with colophon
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Creation Start Date: 1073
Creation End Date: 1151
Creation Date: Pala period, c. 1073-1151
Creation Place: India, Bihar, Nalanda monastery
Object Type: Drawings and Watercolors
Materials and Techniques: Ink and opaque watercolor on palm leaf
Dimensions: Each approx. 2 7/8 x 22 3/8 in. (7.3 x 56.8 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1987.001
Credit Line: Asia Society: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Acquisitions Fund
Context: Buddhist paintings are found in cave temples, halls of worship and meditation, and scriptural texts. The production of Buddhist manuscripts--which are made of talipot palm leaves strung together with cord--illustrated with images of various Buddhist deities, scenes from the life of Shakyamuni, or both of these motifs flourished in Bihar and Bengal under the rule of the Pala kings during the 11th and 12th centuries.
Four leaves of a manuscript from eastern India of the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines), dated to c. 1073, are illustrated with scenes from the life of the Buddha interspersed with images of deities. The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra is one of the earliest known texts of Mahayana Buddhism; sections of it may have been formulated as early as the 2nd century BCE and it is believed to have been completed by the 2nd century CE.
Several inscriptions in Sanskrit and Tibetan (written on leaf E) provide a rare history of the origin of this book. The Sanskrit colophon records the donation of the manuscript by a devotee named Nae Suta Shoha Sitna and lists the name of the scribe as Ananda, of the famous Nalanda monastery in Bihar. The offering was made in the fifteenth year of the rule of King Vigrahapala, son of Nayapala. Nayapala ruled from about 1042 to 1058; the fifteenth year of King Vigrahapala's rule would be around 1073, thereby giving a date for the production of this manuscript. A second Sanskrit inscription records a rededication of the manuscript in 1151. Manuscripts such as this were considered sacred objects and used for teaching and possibly as the focus of meditation. As a result, rededications and repairs were common.
The first of the three Tibetan inscriptions translates the Sanskrit, while the second and third trace the history of this Indian book in Tibet. Once owned by the Kashmiri monk Mahapandita Shakya Shri, who was active in Tibet from 1204 to 1213, the manuscr
Related Document Description: Huntington, Susan L., and John C. Huntington. Leaves from the Bodhi Tree: The Art of Pala India (8th-12th Centuries) and Its International Legacy. Dayton and Seattle: Dayton Art Institute and University of Washington Press, 1990, pp. 185-89.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 182-83, 184, 185.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 54, 55, 125-26.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1987.001
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, Asia Society
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