Seated in paryankasana on a multicoloured lotus, he is bedecked with jewellery and tiaras. His right hand is stretched in the gesture of charity and the left rests on his lap. Garuda, the 'Lord of Birds' crowns the apex of his enlightenment throne. He has the signs of a Buddha such as long earlobes, the urna (the auspicious tuft of hair between the eyebrows, signifying superhuman quality), and the ushnisha (cranial bump on the head, symbolizing wisdom).
Ratnasambhava is associated with the south direction. He is related to the addictions of avarice and pride, which he transmutes into the wisdom of equality.
Altogether eight bodhisattvas surround Ratnasambhava, with two of them shown standing. The cult of the Eight Bodhisattvas originated in India during the early days of Mahayana Buddhism and was particularly popular in Central Asia and Tibet. One of the earliest texts to describe the rituals and iconography of this cult is the Ashtamandalakasutra, translated into Chinese by Amoghavajra. The Eight Bodhisattvas representing the eight directions were worshipped largely for mundane favors and for protection from disease, famine, and war. Apart from thangkas, images of the eight bodhisattvas are found painted on walls in several Tibetan monasteries such as Iwang, Samding, Dolma, and Lakhang, thus attesting to the cult's wide popularity.
Visual representations of Ratnasambhava are extremely rare and hard to come by.
This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.
Beer, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999.
Getty, Alice. The Gods of Northern Buddhism. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978.
Lipton, Barbara, and Ragnubs, Nima Dorjee. Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collection of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Pal, Pratapaditya. Art of Tibet. Los Angeles: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990.
Rhie, Marylin M. & Thurman, Robert A.F. Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.
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