Paintings for the Panchen Lama's temple at Jehol (Chengde)
Artist/maker unknown, Tibetan
With eight arms and multicolored faces, Sitapatra (She of the White Parasol) dominates the center of this painting. Above hovers her parasol, believed to physically and spiritually protect everyone it shelters. In her many hands are pairs of symbolic objects: a pronged ritual implement (vajra) and a wheel (chakra) signify Buddhist teachings; a bow and arrow symbolize the union of wisdom and method (how to properly aim wisdom); and a noose and goad represent guided mindfulness (just as a handler might use a lasso and a goad to direct an animal). Sitapatra was a popular figure in rites promoting longevity, especially during the reign of the Chinese Emperor Qianlong. The smaller images of Amitayus (top center) and the White and Green Taras (bottom corners) are also connected with long-life rituals.