Amitayus, the Bodhisattva of Limitless Life
Artist/maker unknown, Chinese
Amitayus sits on a blue lotus rising from a pool of foaming waves. The idealized landscape with offerings of multicolored jewels, elephant tusks, and a red coral branch represents sacred space. The red sun and a white crescent moon that appear simultaneously in the sky imply sacred time. This thangka's Chinese origin is indicated by the inscription (on the back), which is written in Tibetan, Manchurian, Mongolian, and Chinese--the four official languages of the Qing dynasty. The inscription includes the date of the commission as well as the name of the deity and, together with the yellow silk that covers the back, shows that the painting was originally part of the imperial Manchu collections.