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Asian Art

Book Covers with Buddhas and Dakinis

late 16th century

Opaque watercolor on wood, framed

framed: 14 1/4 × 23 1/2 × 2 in. (36.2 × 59.7 × 5.1 cm)
sight in frame (each): 3 3/4 × 18 1/2 in. (9.5 × 47 cm)
Gift of the Rubin-Ladd Foundation under the bequest of Ester R. Portnow
In South Asia, Buddhist texts were written on long, flat palm leaves that were bound together with string and placed between wooden covers. The five Buddhas depicted on this cover represent the celestial Buddhas that served as the heads of the five families in later Buddhist traditions. Each is painted in a different color and displays a different hand gesture, and each is associated with one of a group of meditative female figures that is painted on the back cover. Known as dakinis, these figures have three heads and multiple arms, and they are identified by the bows and arrows they hold.
Not on view
Katmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan Kingdoms (1484 - 1768)

Arnold Lieberman, New York; sold to the Rubin-Ladd Foundation, Georgetown, Conn., January 21, 2003; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2017


“Acquisitions July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017,” https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/bulletin/Pub-Bull-acquisitions-2017.pdf (accessed December 1, 2017).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.