Amazing Tangka Stories
The interactive website presents two sets of Tibetan tangkas: Jataka Tales (past life stories of the Buddha) and Dipankara Atisha (famous Indian Buddhist monk). The tangkas are shown with their original Tibetan inscriptions and English translation. For information regarding the Project please contact: serinity@amnh.org
Gautama Buddha and Jataka Tales [Click on a painting to learn its content]

Avadanas 33-36 [70.2/1575]


Avadanas 37-40 [70.2/1576]


Avadanas 41-44 [70.2/1577]

The paintings depict stories (avadanas) of exemplary people as told by the Buddha who fulfill the Buddhist ideal of the Bodhisattva, a person who always gives whatever he or she can to help others. Through such generosity, over many lifetimes, they will become enlightened. The Buddha tells each story and at its end he identifies the main characters in their present life, that is, as his own contemporaries. In some cases these are past life stories (jatakas) of the Buddha.

These paintings are part of a set of thirty-one paintings based on the eleventh-century text by the Kashmiri poet Ksemendra, the Avadanakalpalata. There are a total of 108 avadanas in this text, with approximately four avadanas represented on each painting, that are subdivided into sequential fragments.

Only six of the set in the AMNH collection have inscriptions.


Avadanas 45-48 [70.2/1578]


Avadanas 75-79 [70.2/1586]


Avadanas 100-103 [70.2/1592]

Atisha Stories [Click on a painting to learn its content]

Atisha [70.0/7194]


Dipankara Atisha [70.0/7195]

These are the paintings from AMNH collections that represent Atisha (982-1054), a famous Indian Buddhist monk who traveled to Tibet where he reformed Buddhist practices and laid the groundwork for the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

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