On the Decorative Style of Buryat Buddhist Art


Ts.-B.Badma zhapov


Buryat Temple art is decorative. The buryat temple was aderned with wooden reliefs decorated with Astamangala. Astamangalas or Eight Auspicious Emblems are familiar to the Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and are known to Buddhist worship for ancient times. They are: Sitapatra (white umbrella), Mastsyayugma (Pair of fishes), Sankha (Conch), Padma (Lotus), Dhvaja (Flag), Klasa (Jar), Cakra (Wheel, Granthi (enhdles knot). Astamangalas are represented as decorative motifs in different parts of a temple.


In the main altar of the temple a statue of Buddha Sakya muni designates the mount Sumeru of the Buddhist symboloog7uy: a mythical mountain, whence the Bodhicitta loses itself in Sunya (cited by: B. Bhattacharyya. the Indian Buddhist Iconography, 2nd ed. Calcutta, 1958, p. 434)


The altar is also comprised of precious material things: sculptures, Stupas, Mandalas, as well as was and scroll paintings which decorate the sacral periphery. In the ritual temple area, the illusions and emotion of the worshippers are brought to life through the richness of plastic arts and by the sensual symmetry of the details: decorated with jewelry and sacredly dressed figures of the deities made of dead and polished gold, silver, bronze and enamel, gold and silver stupas inlayed with turquoise, pearl, coral, agate, nephrite and amber, many layered liturgical standards of brocade and silks with embroided "Auspicious Emblems" decorated with flower donations of Pure along with the Fragrance of incense and music reminiscent of performing deities, reminiscent of performing deities. remind the adept of paradise spheres (Zhing bkod)


The symbolical theme "Pure Land of the "(Pansuddhabuddhaksetra) realizes the liziological prospect of the "complete removal of Karmic obstacles" (Karmavarana-visuddhi) and well as in the molus of preciousness and dazzling materiallity. Painted iconography of the paradise lands Sukhavati, Tusita and Abhirati are depicted in scroll as and art of miniature paintings with its refined and plain character of the painted figures and thin lineary differentiation. The picture of 'Sukhavati paradise" corresponds to the widely spread canonic standard. The painting style is remotely related to that found in china with its compound structure of the graphic picture of rocks, trees and colour lines of the clouds. A golden outer circle embraces the paradise sphere in the center of which sits Buddha Amitabha, and behind him, tree glittering with jewelry and crowned with a umbrella with Amitayus sitting on top,. in the upper part of a scroll we find multicoloured clouds with apsaaras and other figures of worship holding banners, standards and large fans of peacock feather, In front of the "throne of seven precious things' there is table with offerings and a lake with " a waste of eight merits", surrounded by a fretted fence. There lotuses grow symbolizing purity and bless, while Amitabha is golden in colour. gold is sprinkled into decorations and precious garlands hang down for the tress, while the outlines of trees are thinkened with multi coloured lines. Threes in the paradise garden appear as if woven with flower of brocade embroidered in gold and silver. Colour splits into numerous tones and shades resembling multicoloured clouds: red, brown, orange, pink, light- lilac, brown-red, purple, dark-blue, delicate- geree, turquoise and bleu, play and lustre of colour is strengthened with gold and multi-colured outlines including ornamental lines. 


The physical properties of precious things used in buryat art are transfered into the language of lines and coloured plains in embroidered scroll-thankas inlaid with pearls, corals and semi-precious stones. The applique with the picture of Guhyasadhana Hayagriva is an example of the late "Buryat Style" of applique scrolls. Rhythmic -colour and plain-plastic quality of buryat applique has a remote stylistic analogies in both Tibetan and Chinese are. Dense and Brilliant local colour of the slid cloth pieces "composing" main configuration in Pierced with golden lines rainbow in shapes with outline the compound ornamental picture of attributes of the deity-Yidam. Dark-blue, dark-blue-violet, blue, lilac, pink, chryssolite-yellow, malachite-green saturated colours of applique depict the deity in the halo of magnificence resembling the "mongolian style" of applique scrolls.


The picture of Buddha Amitayus in "Buryat style" is sewn together by different coloured and textured silk pieces. the ornaments are embroidered using small pearls with golden thread settings and outlines of the thinest gold finish. Here a policharomea of colours and shades can be seen: truquoise, dark-blue, blue, light-orange, light-blue, light-brown, orange-brown, yellowish-green, terracotta-red, cherry, grey-brown, light-yellow and lemon.


Scattered on the background are violet-lilac and violet-pink flowers. The refined "Lion body" of a deity with a light, asy-mmetrically narrowing outline, resembling a buryat wooden sculpture from the beginning of the 20th century, is accomplished in a plain-schematic way using densely shaded coloure and embossed, circular ornaments.


Another embroidered scroll techique includes a picture of Sadaksara Avalokitesvara holding rosary made of Small pearl beads and iconographic accesories of reddish-brown, blue, pale-yellow, olive-green, violet-lilac, pale-lilac, light-pink and ark-blue coloured and ephemeral as transparent feathers, from a symbol representing the body of a deity named in Tibetan poetry, "Lord of snowy mountains". His appearance according tot he "decorative-harmonized:" rules, is associated ;with "ornate poetry including a rounded face like a cintamani" Jewel, the elasticity of his arched eyebrows:; mildly drawn nostrils; oblong earlobes and an oval chin smoothly transforming into the delicate outline of his bgody. the white nephrite body, decorated with pendants and necklaces is wrapped with flying scarfs. While the hands resemble lotus-petals, his thin fingers appear as if chisseled out of aromatic sandal-wood. A many-layered paridhana skirt, a refined brightly painte lotus throne, the figure of a deity surrounded by mandorlasewn with shiny gold threads, plus sapphire-blue clouds with a satin lustre back ground complete the scene (compare Vairaocanabhisabodhi Performance Tantra) Says:


Draw and Avalokiteshvara

Like a conch, a Jasmine and a moon,

                        Hero, sitting on a white lotus seat.

                        On his head sits Amitabha

cited by. Tantra in Tibet. the Great Exposition of Sacred Mantra by Tsong-ka pa. Introduced by his Holiness Tezing Guyatso the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Trans. and ed. by J. Hopkins. L., 1977, p. 160). The iconic image of Sadaksara Avalokiteshvara- Yidam, symbolizing the six-syllabled mantra "OM MANI PADME HUM" is not over- shadowed by the magnificent dresses. Down there is monogram-visarga "AHI', the symbol of Sanctifying (rab gnas).


A scroll by the name gser thang ("golden thank") complete with a precious setting, is characterized by a liberal use of gold and a reiteration of the central deity figure composed of golden surfaces and or outlines. this rich use of gold increases the "good merits" of both the painter and customer alike. Fine and compound polychrome iconography and rites as well as the identification of an offering and donator in Buddhist art are inseparable afro both the cultivation of piety and the transformation into pure moral beauty (compare:" He made a donation of gold and golden flowers as well as of scattered golden powder to Tathagata caityas and to Thathagata images. Also he presented them with standards, ornaments, golden vessls and dresses. That's why he is named "Of golden colour"- Lalitavistara").

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