The Buddha Vairochana Presiding over the Cosmic Axis, Panel from a Buddhist Ritual Crown

Date: early 14th century

Culture: Central Tibet

Medium: Distemper on wood

Dimensions: H. 11 3/4 in (29.8 cm); W. 5 1/8 in (13 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 1997

Accession Number: 1997.152


Vairochana presides over the five Tathagatas (Transcendent Buddhas), an important group of deities of Vajrayana Buddhism. Guarding the base of Vairochana’s crown are lions that also serve as his vehicle. Vairochana makes the esoteric gesture bodhyagri, while holding a vajra (thunderbolt scepter) in his right hand.