Gateway to Himalayan Art

Audio Tour Itinerary

Use this audio tour itinerary to navigate the second floor exhibition, Gateway to Himalayan Art, to learn foundational concepts found in Himalayan Art. This itinerary is designed to help expand your understanding of the art on view that will feature and build on these core ideas.

This tour does not need to be followed sequentially.

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Buddha Shakyamuni with Sixteen Arhats

02. Artwork

Buddha Shakyamuni is commonly known as the historical Buddha. Learn more about physical characteristics that will help identify this significant figure in paintings and sculptures throughout the museum.
15th century
Pigments on cloth

H 46 3/4 x W 35 in.

Rubin Museum of Art Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin
C2003.50.7, HAR1052

Bodhisattva Suryabaskara

03. Artwork

What is a bodhisattva or a tantric deity? How are these beings different than buddhas?
18th century
Eastern Tibet
Pigments on cloth

H 38 3/8 in. x W 19 1/2 in.

Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin
C2006.66.136, HAR95


04. Artwork

Tara is a compassionate and well-known female deity in Buddhist traditions. She is committed to helping individuals on their path to enlightenment.
18th century
Central Tibet
Pigments on cloth

H 26 1/2 x W 21 1/4 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
F1997.17.7, HAR323

Mahakala Panjarnata

05. Artwork

Why do some of the gods appear to be angry? Are these figures in anyway evil-spirited?
18th century
Pigments on cloth

H 33 3/8 x W 27 5/8 x D 2 1/4 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
F1998.15.1, HAR649

Siddha Lakshmi

06. Artwork

It is not uncommon for multiple religions to be practiced within a community or culture. Why would the depictions of gods and goddesses from two different religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism share similarities?
17th century
Gilt copper alloy

H 10 3/4 in. x W 4 3/4 in. x D 5 7/8 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
C2004.34.4, HAR65402

Mahasiddha, Virupa

07. Artwork

Himalayan art portrays a variety of figures in its artistic traditions. Some of the most popular human subjects include teachers known as lamas, Arhats which are the original disciples of the historical Buddha, and Mahasiddhas like Virupa, who are well-known in the practice of Vajrayana Buddhism.
17th century
Copper alloy

H 8 x W 6 3/8 x D 4 5/8 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
C2003.15.5, HAR65219

Yellow Jambhala

08. Artwork

Jambhala is a fan-favorite for our youngest visitors. Can you guess what kind of medium may have been used to create this work of art?
17th century

H 25 1/4 x W 19 3/4 x D 11 1/4 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
C2006.64.1, HAR65728

Stages of a Painting (Saraswati)

09. Artwork

Thangka is a Tibetan word for scroll painting. Each image is carefully planned out and executed by artists who often follow specific rules on how to represent these deities.
Buchung Nubgya
Pigments on cotton, silk brocade

H 31 1/2 x W 21 5/8 x D 1 1/2 in.

Rubin Museum of Art


10. Artwork

What role have woodblock prints played in the preservation and transmission of early paintings and compositions? How have objects or images been used in your own life to spread knowledge or stories?
15th - 19th century
Himalayan Region
Pigments on wood

H 1 1/4 x W 5 1/8 x D 5 1/8 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
C2006.75.31, HAR68960

Wax model in parts (Stage 1 creating wax model)

11. Artwork

How are some of the beautiful metal sculptures in the museum made? This wax model shows the beginning of the process involved in hollow metal casting, also known as the lost wax process. Visit the materials and techniques section to see this method unfold.
Kathmandu, Nepal
Rubin Museum of Art

Padmasambhava, Orgyen Dorje Chang

12. Artwork

Ritual is extremely important in Himalayan religious traditions and extends beyond the monastery into daily life. Art from across the museum has been used to support religious practice. To see art in context, visit our Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room , located on this level.
19th century
Pigments on cloth

H 54 1/8 x W 39 1/2 x D 2 1/4 in.

Rubin Museum of Art Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin
C2006.66.284, HAR656

Buddha Amitayus

13. Artwork

How do everyday concerns such as long life and health factor into ritual practices? Buddha Amitayus is a deity associated with long life.
15th century
Pigments on cloth

20 1/8 x 17 1/8 x 2 1/4 in.

Rubin Museum of Art. Gift of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
F1996.31.11, HAR524

Bhutadamara Vajrapani

14. Artwork

Gaining merit is an important concept in Himalayan art. When an individual accumulates merit, they gain positive karma. One of the main reasons whyHimalayan art is made and commissioned is to help in the process of accumulating merit. In this section of the exhibition, discover the multiple ways that merit can be accumulated including the use of stupas and prayer wheels. .
19th century
Ground mineral pigment, fine gold line on cotton

H 27 1/8 x W 18 1/2 in.

Rubin Museum of Art Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin
C2006.66.121, HAR64

Mandala of Guhyasamaja, Akshobhyavajra

15. Artwork

The term mandala is traditionally used to describe a geometric design that represents a three dimensional palace of a deity. As you look at this painting, try to imagine what it would look like to see this schematic view of the palace in 3D.
14th century
Pigments on cloth

H 14 1/8 x W 13 7/8 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
F1997.43.1, HAR575

Wheel of Life

16. Artwork

The Wheel of Existence explains the cycle of the process of life, death, and rebirth. In the center circle of this painting there are three animals representing the three poisons which drives the endless cycles of suffering. Listen to this audio stop to learn more about the three poisons and the wheel of life.
19th century
Pigments on cloth

H 45 1/2 x W 30 5/8 in.

Rubin Museum of Art
Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin
C2006.66.131, HAR78

Life story of Buddha Shakyamuni

17. Artwork

Narrative paintings are meant to inspire devotion and often describe stories of famous figures, such as the Buddha. Hint: The large figure in the center is generally the main subject of the narrative.
18th - 19th century
Pigments on cloth

H 36 1/8 x W 23 1/8 in.

Rubin Museum of Art Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin
C2006.66.222, HAR275

The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room

18. Recommended for You

After admiring all of the pieces throughout the galleries, make sure to stop at the serene example of a Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room. This museum cornerstone provides an opportunity to understand the art in context and how practitioners may use these objects in their daily practice.