Dharmata – Attendant to the 16 Great Arhats
Dharmata is the Upasaka of Central Asian or Chinese origin and the layman attendant to the 16 Great Arhats.
Dharmata is the essence of things as they are. Dharmata is the naked, unconditioned truth, the nature of reality, or the true nature of phenomenal existence.
Previously, we learned about the life of Dharmata. Now, we are going to learn about the iconography of Dharmata.
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The iconography of the Dharmata
Dharmata is light in complexion with a small mustache and the hair in tresses bundled on the head. Dharmata walks forward with a stoop and the eyes cast downward onto the form of the Buddha Amitabha floating on a sea of white clouds in front. The right-hand of Dharmata holds upraised a flywhisk with a red handle fastened with a white yak tail suspended from the tip.
The left-hand of Dharmata grasps the strap of the red travel case carried on the back. Dharmata is adorned with gold earrings and bracelets he wears a green jacket, white pants, and decorative boots. An orange robe with gold trim is wrapped over the left shoulder and a pink skirt about the waist.
Dharmata is carried in the case on the back is a load of books on the top shelf covered with a yellow cloth. The two lower shelves of Dharmata are filled with black begging bowls and a single gold khakkhara staff pointing out from the back. Dharmata is attached at the top of the case is a circular yellow canopy decorated with hanging gold tassels.
He is walking in front with the head turned to the side, dark stripes and colorful eyes is a fierce tiger having emanated from the right knee of the attendant.
Depicting Dharmata Thangka
The thangka of the Dharmata is from Tibet. It is made between 1800 – 1899 AD. Dharmata is from an uncertain lineage. The size of the thanks is 57.15×39.37cm. The base of the painting is Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton. Currently, this painting is in the Rubin Museum of Art.
Mountain Landscape is at the top right of the thangka. Mountain landscape is a white twisted tree trunk that supports a canopy of green foliage sheltering a solitary bird.
Dharmata with Amitabha Buddha Thangka
The thangka of Dharmata with Amitabha Buddha is from Central Tibet. It is made between 1600 – 1699 AD. Dharmata with Amitabha Buddha is from an uncertain lineage. The size of the thanks is 96.52×60.96cm. Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton and fine gold is used to color this painting.
Dharmata is mature in appearance with black hair piled on the top of the head, long dark eyebrows, and growth of facial hair. He looks upward to the sky. Dharmata walks with the companionship of an orange striped tiger at the side.
Emanating as a fierce protector of the 16 Arhats, the tiger arises from the right knee of Dharmata. In the sky above, drifting on a bank of variously colored clouds is the buddha Amitabha who is red in color with the two hands placed in the mudra of meditation. Dharmata is seated atop a dark blue lotus blossom encircled by rays of light.
A large pine tree, rocky blue peaks, and green-red clouds fill the background of the thangka. The foreground is a green landscape with a stream wandering through a meadow adorned with attractive birds.
Dharmata with Dakini Simhamukha Thangka
The thangka of Dharmata with Dakini Simhamukha is from Eastern Tibet. It is made between 1700 – 1799 AD. Dharmata with Dakini Simhamukha is from a Karma (Kagyu) lineage. Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton and fine gold is used to color this painting.
On the back, Dharmata carries a red traveling case filled with religious books and provisions topped with a circular canopy crowned with a blue jewel. At the side as a companion is a striped tiger having emanated from the right knee of Dhamatala to be a fierce protector of the 16 Arhats. Dharmata is emanating forth on ribbons of rainbow light arising from the gold water flask is the buddha Amitabha who is red in color with the two hands placed in the mudra of meditation.
Dakini Simhamukha is at the bottom right of the thangka. Dakini Simhamukha is a white lion face who is blue in color. Simhamukha is holding a curved knife upraised in the right hand and a skullcup to the heart with the left.
Amitabha Buddha is seated atop a pink lotus blossom encircled by a nimbus of blue light. Amitabha is wearing orange and red monastic robes he sits on a blue cushion seat and wears the traditional black vajra crown.
Tai Situ Chokyi Jungne
Tai Situ Chokyi Jungne is at the middle right of the thangka. Tai Situ Chokyi Jungne is with the two hands at the heart performing the teaching mudra. Tai Situ Chpkyi Jungne is wearing monastic robes and wearing the red vajra crown.
Dharmata with Virupaksha Thangka
The thangka of Dharmata with Virupaksha is from Tibet. It is made between 1700 – 1799 AD. Dharmata with Virupaksha is from uncertain lineage. The size of the thangka is 60.96×50.80cm. The base of painting is Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton.
By depicting this thangka, we will learn about the presentation of Dharmata with
Dharmata is also known as the lay attendant to the 16 Arhats. In the right hand of the Dharmata. there is held a flywhisk and a water flask on the left.
Virupaksha is at the left of the thangka. Virupaksha holding is a stupa and a snake.
Vaishravana is on the bottom right of the thangka. Vaishravana is known as the Guardian of the North. North Vaishravana is holding a banner and a mongoose.