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Overview of the Medicine Buddha Sutra Transformation Tableau (Yaoshi jingbian 藥師經變), Qianfo zhai (千佛寨) Anderl, Christoph; Yu, Sau Ling Wendy


This transformation tableau of the Medicine Buddha Sutra (Ch. Yaoshi jingbian 藥師經變) is located at Qianfo zhai 千佛寨, Anyue xian 安岳縣, Sichuan sheng 四川省. It dates to the Tang dynasty (618-907). Dimensions: 4.0m (H) x 5.2m (W) x 2.2m (D). The grotto is not well preserved; its right wall and roof have both collapsed. The carvings are badly eroded, particularly the lower part. Based on the extant carvings, it can be divided into 5 sections. The diagram in image [2] shows the sections (created by Sau Ling Wendy Yu). Section A, the middle part of this tableau, contains a sitting statue of Medicine Buddha (Skt. Bhaisajyaguru, Ch. Yaoshi fo 藥師佛) approximately 0.9m in height. The statue is flanked by four standing bodhisattvas (approximately 1.1m in height) on either side. The head of the statue is damaged. There is a round double-layer nimbus behind its head. The statue is placed on a Sumeru throne (Ch. Xumizuo 須彌座). Branches of the Seven Precious Trees (Ch. Qibaoshu 七寶樹) are depicted on both sides of the statue with their leaves forming a large shelter above. Between the leaves of the Seven Precious Trees and the head of Medicine Buddha is a gorgeous canopy adorned with webs of jewellery and pearls. There is also an Apsarā (Ch. Feitian 飛天) on either side of the canopy. The eight attendant bodhisattvas are regarded as the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (Ch. Bada pusa 八大菩薩). They are all standing on lotus thrones and some are in the tribhaṅga posture. Their costumes are depicted in great detail and adorned with beautiful necklaces of jades and pearls. The heads of the three bodhisattvas on the left of Medicine Buddha are damaged. Section D is at the bottom of this tableau. It contains the images of the twelve Heavenly Generals (Ch. Shi'er yaocha 十二藥叉), most badly eroded. See the separate record "The Medicine Buddha Sutra Transformation Tableau (Yaoshi jingbian 藥師經變), including side tableaux and the thousand buddha motifs, Qianfo zhai (千佛寨)" for a discussion of sections B, C and E. Metadata created by: Sau Ling Wendy Yu.

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