Title:Title Page from a Buddhist ManuscriptArtist:Artist UnknownDate:late 18th centuryCreation Place:Asia, TibetCredit Line:The William Hood Dunwoody Fund, The Helen Winton Jones Fund for Asian Art a...Accession Number:92.59.1
The translation of sutras, or Buddhist teachings, and monastic rituals from the original Sanskrit to Tibetan was a vast and daunting task. Nevertheless, within a relatively short time, Tibetan scholars had created a body of sacred literature comparable to any in Asia. These decorative sheets are title pages, typically framed and veiled with silk. Many Tibetan scriptures were written down on paper specially treated and primed with indigo or black lacquer; against this dark background, elegant silver or gold capital script (dsu-can) stood out brilliantly. The illuminations accompanying the text are painted on separate pieces of paper and glued or sewn to the page. In one, the goddess Vasudhara, giver of knowledge, is flanked by lamas. The other illumination features Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, and Avalokitesvara, the compassionate one.