Sutra Cover
On View In:
Gallery 212
Artist:   Artist Unknown  
Title:   Sutra Cover  
Date:   c. 1200  
Medium:   Carved wood, lacquer and gold leaf  
Dimensions:   8 x 26 5/8 x 5/8 in. (20.32 x 67.63 x 1.59 cm)  
Credit Line:   Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton  
Location:   Gallery 212  

This well-preserved book cover once protected the Buddhist manuscript known as Prajnaparamitasutra (The Perfection of Wisdom). By the eleventh and twelfth centuries, this text was accepted as the final scriptural statement of the Mahayana sect's philosophy. It held almost mystical significance for the Tibetan lay community, which commissioned numerous copies of it. The precious palm leaf and paper scriptures were usually protected between a decorated wooden board such as this. The central figure is Prajnaparamita, a deification of the divine word. She is identifiable by her esoteric form and four hands. The upper-right holds the vajra (thunderbolt), and the upper-left the Prajnaparamitasutra. The lower-right hand is in the abhaya, or "fear not" gesture and the lower-left is in the dyana or contemplation position. The image on the right is the compassionate bodhisattva Padmapani (Avalokitsvara) and on the left, Green Tara, the Savioress. The outer border has a total of ten Buddhas in different seated positions. Between the Buddhas are foliated forms and mythological beasts.

Object Description  
Inscriptions:   Stamp wax seal on verso, possibly '2089'  
Classification:   Sculpture  
Physical Description:   This book cover originally protected the Buddhist manuscript known as 'Prajnaparamitasutra' (The Perfection of Wisdom); three seated figures across central panel--central figure is 'Prajnaparamita'; two of her four hands hold a 'vajra' and a sutra; the other two are in the 'abhaya' and 'dyana' positions; Padmapani stands to her right and Green Tara to her left; six smaller Buddhas are seated across the bottom of the border and four are seated across the top; foliate forms and mythological beasts are between the Buddhas  
Creation Place:   Asia, Tibet, , ,  
Accession #:   97.47  
Owner:   The Minneapolis Institute of Arts