Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

A Billion Buddhas: The Awakened Cosmos of Himalayan Buddhism

Aug 9, 2016 – Apr 9, 2017

When you visit our Himalayan gallery, the abundant paintings and sculptures of Buddhas may look similar at first glance: beatific expressions, half-closed eyes, long earlobes. Yet the differences run deep, and they reward those who venture closer. A Billion Buddhas offers you just that opportunity.

We have selected five Tibetan paintings from our collection to illuminate the countless roles that Buddhas play in Himalayan religious thought and practice. You’ll meet the historical Buddha Shakyamuni; the blue Medicine Buddha, who specializes in healing; red Amitabha, who presides over the paradise known as the “Land of Bliss” (Sukhavati); and stunning “meditation deities” (yidam), often depicted as male and female deities in sexual union. According to Tibetan religious doctrine, their symbolism is so powerful that visualizing these meditation deities can produce enlightenment “in this very life.”

The paintings on view in A Billion Buddhas are thangka paintings, sacred pictures that can be rolled, transported and stored. Because they are fragile and fade easily, they can only be exhibited in our gallery for a limited amount of time. A few of these paintings are on display for the very first time, so don’t miss this rare chance to see them.

Main image: The life of the Buddha (detail), 1700–1800. Tibet. Ink and colors on cotton. Asian Art Museum, Bequest of Marjorie Walter Bissinger, F2003.33.37. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Organizers & Sponsors

A Billion Buddhas: The Awakened Cosmos of Himalayan Buddhism is organized by the Asian Art Museum.