The person who we call “the Buddha” was born around 560 BCE in Lumbini, as Siddhartha Gautama. His father was ruler of the Shakyas, a small tribe in southern Nepal. Later when Siddhartha had become a religious sage – a muni – he received the honorific title of Shakyamuni. Raised as a prince, the young Siddhartha left the palace on 4 occassions and encountered 4 people who had remained hidden from him until that time: an invalid, an old man, a dead person, and finally an ascetic beggar. After an ascetic life failed to bring him closer to the understanding that palace life had denied, he finally found a quiet place to meditate in silence. After testing by Mara, the personification of evil, and 49 days he received insight into his former and present lives: extremes in life lead to nothing, life is suffering and suffering must be eliminated. When he reached this insight, he attained nirvana, or liberation, or enlightenment.
In Tibetan painting, a series of twelve major moments in the Buddha’s life developed. The iconographic sequence is standard, although the location of the tableaux in the paintings may vary. The twelve events are: (1) Queen Maya’s dream: The sleeping Queen dreams of a white elephant which signifies her pregnancy and her newborn’s exceptional traits; (2) The birth of Siddhartha; (3) Raising the young prince; (4) Life at the court; (5) The four encounters; (6) Siddhartha secretly leaves the palace; (7) Asceticism; (8) Mara’s attack: Mara, the personification of evil, tries to prevent Siddhartha from reaching the ultimate understanding; (9) Enlightenment; (10) Proclaiming the teachings; (11) Extraordinary events: During his years of wandering, the Buddha sometimes performed miracles, for example transforming snake poison into flowers and creating a passage through a fast-flowing river. He also converts his father on a family visit and journeys to the Heaven of 33 Gods to teach his mother; (12) Parinirvana: The Buddha died and attained parinirvana – the passing beyond nirvana.
Size: approx. 20-22cm x 24-26cm