The Life of the Buddha by Various Artists
high-definition creative commons photographs from the Life of the Buddha by Various Artists exhibition in Ubud, Bali, together with further information.
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These photographs were taken at the Ubud Diary Gallery in Bali on the occasion of an exhibition of 20 paintings depicting the Life of the Buddha which were commissioned by theEhipassiko Foundation. Besides these paintings, others by the same artists were also on display.
The descriptions below are written by Ānandajoti, and the information on the painters and their styles is given by Mr Putu Bayu.
The Gallery itself was light and airy and provided a perfect setting for the paintings. Other works were also on display such as carvings, but they are not featured here.
The first of the paintings shows the birth of the Bodhisattva Prince Siddhartha, and his taking seven steps on lotus leaves while proclaiming that this was his last life. Queen Mahā Māyā is seen still holding on to the Sāla tree in the background. The white elephant on the left signifies the conception dream the Queen had previously. Two Devas pour down streams of water, one hot and one cold.
Nyoman Sunartha paints in the Tegalalang style which was created by his teacher, Pande Ketut Bawa (who painted The Attack of Mara and Arja Godogan below).
When Prince Siddhartha was older he undertook a series of trips into the town with his charioteer Channa. On these visits he saw consecutively an old man bent down with age, a sick man being tended to by others and a dead man being carried away on a bier, and learned that he too was subject to these things. On his next trip he saw an ascetic, who had given up the worldly life in order to find the truth.
The style of this painting is a development of various painting techniques and styles in Ubud. Giur Kartika is an artist who works and paints at the Arma Museum, Ubud.
Prince Siddhartha determined to leave the palace and with Channa holding onto the horse Kanthaka’s tail he eventually crossed the river Anoma and on the farther bank cut off his hair and went forth as an ascetic himself. We see in this painting cocnut trees, which do not grow in north India, the stories being reimagined in a Balinese landscape.
This work by Made Kencanayasa follows the technique and style of the German painter Walter Spies.
After he had become an ascetic the Bodhisattva took up austere striving for six years along with five other ascetics, who would later be known as the Group-of-Five. The wild animals at the front of the painting signify that they are in untamed wild forests while undertaking their austerities. The monochrome colouring seems to fit the rejection of the senses very well.
Putu Adi comes from Keliki Kawan Village, Payangan, and is the youngest of the artists feautured here. Putu Adi uses a mixture of ink and acrylic colors on canvas in his work.
In this painting we see Māra sitting on the elephant Girimekhala as he sends all his forces to attack the Bodhisattva. He send flaming arrows at the Bodhisattva which turn to flowers before falling to the ground. Notice the dynamism of those on the attack and the serenity of the Bodhisattva.
Pande Ketut Bawa is the creator of the Tegalalang painting technique and style and teacher to Nyoman Sunartha who painted The Birth of Prince Siddhartha above.
On the Full Moon night of Vesākha the Bodhisattva sat in meditation and realised the three understandings: he remembered his past lives; he saw the beings were being reborn according to their deeds, good or bad; and he realised the destruction of the pollutants. At the break of dawn he became Awakened and was a Perfect Sambuddha. Witness to these evnts were the Devas who offered worship to the newly Awakened One.
I Nyoman Sudirga is an artist from Batuan, which has its own techniques and colourising.
Being requested by the Brahma Deva to teach the Buddha traveled to the Deerpark at Rsipatana, just outside Benares, which is where the Group-of-Five were. He then taught them the Dharmacakra discourse, which set the teaching of the reign of the Dharma in motion. On that occasion one of the monks attained the first stage of Awakening. In this painting we see that not only the monks are listening to the teaching, but also the birds and animals.
Made Ariasa is an artist from Payangan Village, whose style has developed from various techniques and styles of Ubud painting.
After spending the Rains Retreat at Rsipatana the Buddha set out for Gayā where he converted the three Kāśyapa brothers and their followers and headed into Rājagṛha where King Bimbisāra offered a dāna to the Buddha and his monastics. However, he did not dedicate merits to the Petas who were his former relatives, and they screeched and disturbed the palace all night. The king asked the Buddha about it, and he then gave another alms-giving and the Petas came and stood beyond the walls. The king then dedicated the merits and lotus pools were generated for the Petas, along with food and drinks.
Ketut Suwela comes from Petang Village, Badung. Ketut Suwela’s painting style has undergone many developments from the Ubud and Petulu styles. He studied painting with various teachers and artists’ communities in Ubud.
While he was in Rājagṛha on the Full Moon night of February (Māgha) 1,250 of the Buddha’s disciples assembled in the Bamboo Grove (Veḷuvana). These were the three Kāśyapa brothers and their 1,000 followers, and Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana and their 250 disciples. It was at this meeting that the Buddha appointed Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana as his Chief Disciples.
Nyoman Karta is an artist from Kutuh Kelod Village, Ubud. His painting style is very similar to the Kutuh painting style, which has a different perspective and color characteristics from the traditional painting style in Ubud.
In the Spring the Buddha together with 20,000 Arahats returned to his home town of Kapilavastu. As the Buddha was only 35 at the time, many of the senior Śākyan princes would not worship him, so to humble them the Buddha entered the fourth Jhāna and performed the twin miracle of making water and fire stream from his body. The Śākyans understanding his great power then paid their respects.
The painting is by Wayan Wiryam who is an artist from Penestanan Village, Ubud. He is the son of artist Wayan Sadia (who painted the Gods make Offerings to the Buddha and Sivali below) and also the grandson of the famous artist Ketut Soki. The painting is in the Young Artist painting style, which was popularized by the Dutch artist Arie Smit.
The Śākyans and Koliyans were relatives whose territories were split by the river Rohinī. Both sides used the waters to irrigate their crops. One years when there was a drought they almost came to war over access to the water. At that time the Buddha sat cross-legged in the sky and taught both sides the Dharma, at which they desisted and pledged 250 princes each to join the Sangha.
Pande Wayan Beratha is an artist from Tegalalang Village, Ubud. This style was popularized by his teacher, Pande Ketut Bawa who painted The Attack of Mara above and Arja Godogan below.
After the passing of King Suddhodana, the Buddha’s father, in the 5th year after the Buddha’s Awakening, Mahā Prajāpatī Gotamī and her followers walked barefoot over the rough roads of India and came upon the Buddha in Veśālī, where, with the help of Ven. Ānanda, she requested permission to join the Sangha, which was subsequently given. The Buddha is shown here in blue robes and has a halo around his head. Next to him is Ven Ānanda, and in front are Mahā Prajāpatī and her followers. Male members of the Sangha on from behind the Buddha.
This is the work of an artist from Kamasan village, Klungkung named Pande Sumantra. This is the only work in the Sakyamuni project that uses natural colors and materials. For color, pere stone is used and ulantaga paper is used for fabric.
The Buddha spent the 7th Rains Retreat in Trayatiṁśa Heaven where he taught the Abhidharma to his mother who had been reborn as a Devaputra. After the retreat the Buddha descended to earth at Saṃkaśya. For the occasion Śakra created three stairways, one of gold for the Devas, one of silver for the Brahma gods, and one of ruby which the Buddha himself descended upon. Notice the portrait of the bhikṣuṇīs as well as the bhikṣus at the foot of the stairs, awaiting the return of the Buddha.
Gede Widyantara is an artist from Batuan Village. His painting is in the Batuan painting style that has undergone some development. Gede Widyantara himself lived in a family circle of famous Batuan painting artists such as Wayan Bendi and Wayan Sadia (see The Gods make Offerings to the Buddha and Sivali below).
At one time a great dispute arose in the Sangha over a minor matter. The Buddha tried to resolve it, but the monastics involved were obstinate and wouldn’t listen. The Buddha then withdrew to the Pārileyyaka forest for his 10th Rains Retreat, where he was looked after particularly by elephants and monkeys. (Eventually the Sangha members resolved their dispute and asked forgiveness from the Buddha.)
Gusti Putu Diatmika paints in a development of the Keliki style. The characteristics and character of Gusti Putu Diatmika’s work are the pastel colors and solid objects in each of his works. He also painted Hanoman searches for his Father below.
One time Ven Śāriputra’s younger brother Revata ordained. When the latter became an Arahat the Buddha signalled his intention to visit him. The Buddha set off with a great company of monks following along. At one point they came to a juncture in the road. One way was shorter but more dangerous as it was inhabited by Yakṣas; the other road was longer but safer. The Buddha asked if Ven Śīvālī was with them, and when it was confirmed he went by the short road, and at every league the Devas provided food and accommodation for the Sangha.
This is the work of the oldest artist in the Sakyamuni project, named Wayan Sadia. He is the father of Wayan Wirya and comes from Penestanan Village, Ubud. The style of this painting is the Ubud style which was popularized by his teacher, Rudolf Bonnet. The character of Rudolf Bonnet’s paintings is that they highlight the anatomy and facial features of people.
At one time, while the Buddha was residing at Śrāvastī, 500 monastics who had taken a meditation subject from the Buddha retreated to the Himālayas in order to practice. While there they disturbed the Tree Devas who scared them in the middle of the night by screaming and visions. The monastics returned to the Buddha and explained what had happened and he then taught them the Discourse on Loving-Kindness and asked them to practice in the forest. The Tree Devas then understood they meant no harm, and began to serve them. All the monastics during that very Rains Retreat became Arahats.
The painting is in the style of the German painter Walter Spies.
One time the Buddha came across a monk suffering from dysentry and enquired who was looking after him. When told no one was, he asked Ven Ānanda to bring water and help him wash the monk, and then they lay him down on a couch. (The Buddha then taught the monks to look after each other as they had no other relatives once they had entered the Sangha.)
This is in the Petulu painting style, Ubud. Ketut Sarbi is the younger brother of artist Wayan Tutur who created the Petulu painting style which emphasizes the ornaments and carvings of Balinese buildings.
Vesālī in the Licchavī country was a rich city but at one time it was hit by famine, non-human beings and disease. The city’s guardians eventually sent for the Buddha who was residing in Rājagṛha to come and help them. The painting shows the Buddha and his monks crossing the Ganges on the way to Vesālī. The Licchavīs wait to receive him on the near bank. (Once there he instructed Ven Ānanda to recite the Ratanasutta, which resulted in the abatement of all three dangers.)
Wayan Badra is from Petulu Village, Ubud. Similar to Putu Ardika (who painted the Verses on the Blessings of Success below) and Ketut Sarbi (who painted Buddha helps the Sick Monk above, and Jaṭāyu below), he also studied painting with Wayan Tutur.
The Jayamaṅgalagāthā celebrate the Buddha’s victories over eight of his adverseries who are all pictured here. From left to right at the top: the Devaputta Māra, the Yakkha Ālavaka, Nālagiri the mad elephant; to the Buddha’s left the mass murderer Aṅgulimāla, and to his right Ciñcā, who accused him of misdeeds; below her is the arrogant wanderer Saccaka; to his left the Nāga Nandopananda; and on his left Brahma Baka. Two Devas on the far left and right look on at his victories.
This is the work of Putu Ardika, who is from Petulu village, Ubud. The style is a development of the Ubud painting style. Putu Ardika studied with Wayan Tutur who also came from Petulu Village. The characteristic of this painting style is the similarity to the carved ornaments of Balinese buildings.
After 45 years of teaching the Buddha eventually gave up the life force that was keeping him going, and in Kuśinagarī he lay down on his right side and there he passed away. Those who were not Arahats grived for him, while those who were understood all things must pass. This is the last of the paintings in the series.
Wayan Wardita is from Payangan Village, and he paints in the style of the German painter Walter Spies.
More Paintings seen in the Gallery
This is a companion piece by the same artists to the Descent from Trayatiṁśa pictured above. Here we see the scene before the descent, when the Buddha was teaching in Heaven. The Buddha is sat on a lotus flower, and the Devas, including his previous mother, surround him. One of the gods shown in a four-faced Brahma god.
The painting is in the Batuan village style.
A more modern approach to the portrait of the Buddha is taken in this painting. We see the Buddha sitting on a giant lotus leaf, and holding a flower in his hand which displays the sign of fearlessness (abhayamudrā). To right and left rise up the Himalayan mountains.
This painting employs the Batuan technique and style.
This is another painting commissioned by Ehipassiko which illustrate the 20 chapters of the Indonesian translation of the Mahāparinibbānasutta, which describes the last year of the Buddha’s life.
It is painted by the same artist who painted the Great Assembly above. This work by Nyoman Karta is 125x300 cm in size and it took four months to paint. This is a typical color technique and style from the Kutuh village in Ubud.
This is a painting in the Kamasan style of the Mahābhārata by the same artist who painted The Buddha founds the Bhikkhuni Sangha above.
The same artist has painted In the Pārileyyaka Forest above. It employs the Keliki technique and style.
The same artist has painted Buddha helps the Sick Monk above. The technique and style of this painting is of the Petulu village in Ubud.
The same artist has painted The Birth of Prince Siddhartha above. This work uses the technique and style of Tegalalang, Ubud.
This is the work of Pande Wayan Beratha who represents the technique and style of Tegalalang, Ubud.
Melasti is a Balinese purification ceremony and ritual, which, according to the Balinese calendar, is held several days prior to the Nyepi holy day. Melasti was meant as the ritual to cleanse the world from bad karma through the symbolic act of acquiring the water of life. The Melasti ceremony is held on the edge of the beach to purify oneself of all the bad things in the past and throw them into the ocean. The same artist has painted the Beyond the Walls Discourse above.
This is the work of Ketut Suwela using Ubud techniques and styles which have undergone development from traditional painting styles in the villages of Ubud.
The same artist has painted The Attack of Māra above, it uses the technique and style of Tegalalang, Ubud.
An Odalan is a Balinese village temple festival in Indonesia. It is celebrated to commorate the founding of a temple. It is an occasion when the Hindu village community comes together, invite the gods to visit them for three or more days, perform religious services while offering refreshments and entertainment to the gods and the community. The same artist has painted Buddha Performing the Double Miracle above.
This is a painting uses the technique and style of a Young Artist which was developed by the Dutch artist Aries Smit.
The same artist has painted The Awakening above. This work is in the Batuan style.
The first 20 of these paintings were commissioned by the Ehipassiko Foundation in Jakarta, and belong to that organisation. The later paintings shown here though are still on sale. If anyone is interested in buying those paintings, or in commissioning others by these or other artists in Bali please contact Mr Putu Bayu (whatsapp: +62 818-0547-3547) who knows the artists and is an agent expert in these works.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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