- 14th century
- Copper alloy
- Catalog Number
- C2003.12.2 (HAR 65213)
- Rubin Museum of Art
Stupas are made to hold precious relics of the Buddha or other important religious leaders, as well as symbolic “relics” of the Buddha’s teachings (dharma). In India stupas were originally hemispherical mounds, but gradually they evolved into more complex forms. Stupas can be found in all sizes throughout the Himalayas, marking important locations. People walk around them, performing a circumambulation, often while turning prayer wheels. Activities such as reciting mantras and walking around stupas, temples, or other sacred sites are believed to increase a person’s merit.
Ritual informs the structure of religious life in the Himalayas, defining the daily routine of practitioners and shaping a range of community-based activities.
Religious rituals and the commissioning of art can serve everyday secular needs, the most common being wealth, health, and long life.
Tantric practitioners strive to transform themselves by using meditative and ritual tools with the ultimate goal of enlightenment or awakening.
Many Himalayan paintings serve as illustrations and instructional tools that bring forth stories about the Buddha, Tibetan masters, and more.
Instructive paintings can illustrate religious doctrines, medical and astrological charts, or images of ritual implements and meditative postures.