- Place of origin:
circa 1112 (made)
- Materials and Techniques:
Palm leaf, painted
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Seated Mahasri Tara. Illustrated palm-leaf folio from the Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita manuscript; from the Vredenburg Manuscript. According to the colophon, this manuscript was donated by a lay devotee, Udaya Sinha, in the 36th year of the reign of the Pala king Ramapala, c.1120; probably Nalanda monastry, Bihar, Pala period.
Recto: Text commencing: (Ch XXXII, 527) (Ganga) nadivalukopamesu until (Ch XXXII,528) paricarito'smy Ananda tva-(ya)
Verso: Text commencing (Ch XXII, 528) (tva) ya maitrena kayakarmana until (Ch XXXII, 529) pujayisyanty arcayisyanty apaca
Left: Syamatara, the green Tara, seated on a couch with hands in dharmachakra mudra, a blue lotus by her left shoulder. Listening to her teaching are two unidentified goddesses, one of yellow complexion seated on a white lotus, the other of blue complexion seated on a pink lotus. It has been suggested that the yellow goddess is Asokakanta, a form of Marici, because a boar's head appears over the right shoulder. No boar's head can in fact be seen.
Centre: The Bodhisattva Padmapani (white) seated in lalitasana on a multi-coloured lotus seat. His right hand is in varada mudra, the left raised before the breast in vitarka mudra holds the stem of a white lotus. To his right sits Tara (yellow) on a white lotus seat with hands in anjali mudra and on his left is the Dharmapala Hayagriva (red) wearing a tiger skin seated in maharajalilasana on a white lotus seat.
Right: Mahakala, as a god of wealth, surrounded by flames with ornaments consisting of coiled snakes. In one hand he holds a mongoose spitting jewels (also an emblem of Kuvera), in the other is a kapala or skull-cap.
Place of Origin
circa 1112 (made)
Materials and Techniques
Palm leaf, painted
Length: 53 cm, Width: 6.3 cm
Object history note
Acquired from Mr T Harris, 39 Westmark Point, Roehampton, London SW15, England
Historical context note
From the E Vredenburg collection
Manuscript, palm leaf, painted, Bengal, c1112
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Guy, John & Swallow, Deborah (eds): 'Arts of India: 1550-1900', text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow, V&A Publications, London, 1990, p30, no 16. Guy, John: 'Indian Temple Sculpture', V &A Publications, London, 2007, p46, plate 48. E Vredenburg: 'The Continuity of Pictorial Tradition in the Art of India', Rupam No 1, Calcutta, 1920, figures 7 & 11 Losty, J P: 'The Art of the Book in India', p32 Losty, J P in Bautze-Picron, C (ed): 'Essays in Honour of James C Harle', New Delhi, 1990, pp 189-200 Bussagli, Mario: 'La Miniatura Indiana', Milan, 1966, plates 1 & 2
"Seven leaves from a manuscript of the Buddhist text, the 'Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita' ('The Transcendental Wisdom of the Further Shore in 8000 verses') in Sanskrit on palm leaf. The 18 pictures are of Buddhist divinities and form three groups of six, one at the beginning of the manuscript, another in the exact centre, a third at the end.
The paintings are not intended to illustrate the text, but rather to preserve it from harm and attract celestial beings.
Written at the expense of Udaya Sinha, a house-holder, for the benefit of the souls of his parents in the 36th year of the reign of Ramapala (a member of the Pala dynasty of Bengal)."
For a similar manuscript dated in the 39th regnal year of Ramapala, see 'Oriental Art', Summer 1967 and Summer 1960.
Note: Ganguly, D C: 'The Struggle for Empire' in Majumdar, R C (ed): 'The History and Culture of the Indian People', Vol V, Bombay, 1957, p28. This places the accession of Ramapala in about the year 1077 AD.