What is a Buddha ?
The term peaceful deity is, in itself, an explanation of what these divinities are. As we discussed in the Thangkas section, the Buddhist pantheon is vast and therefore requires a system of classification. Peaceful deities is probably the largest class of deities and many of the paintings will be familiar to us. When someone says Buddha we will often picture the historical Buddha but it is necessary to understand that the word Buddha is actually referring to any enlightened being.
Shakyamuni Buddha, Chenrezig and the Green Tara are all peaceful deities and to add to my previous statement are themselves Buddhas as well. Although Padmasambhava can be considered a semi-wrathful deity, I have placed him in the peaceful deities, as I find this structure to be easier to grasp. Each deity that you see here will symbolize one of the many qualities or a combination of the qualities of the Buddha. Wisdom, compassion, patience, truthfulness - these are just some of the qualities of the deities that are in this collection.
In Buddhist art, beauty is defined by constant proportions, the face in particular is what we look at to determine the quality of the painting. The immense precision involved in creating these serene soothing faces and perfectly symmetrical shapes is considered to be a form of meditation. The artist and owner of these paintings are believed to accumulate positive merits !
Now we can dive a little deeper into the different paintings and motifs that we have available online.
Art and beauty
Many studies around human aesthetics have found that facial symmetry and certain bodily features are pleasing to all. Buddhist iconography is built around this idea and created a set of geometric rules that date back over a millennia. This strict system is used to ensure symmetry and harmony, the idea here is that the painting will send a feeling of tranquility on the eyes of the viewer, this is equally true for Mandalas but for slightly different reasons.
It is no surprise that we often find ourselves captivated by the peaceful and calm presence of these thangkas. Although some of us hesitate to buy a Thangka as it has religious significance, it is important to understand that the serenity and presence of these paintings is enough. In words of the famous painter Alphonse Mucha - art exists only convey a spiritual message.