Excerpt from an altar in the Tongsa Dzong. The Buddha is sitting under an umbrella promising happiness. In front of him a butter lamp is burning, which is meant to please his sense of seeing. Guru Rinpoche is seated at his right and the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel at his left.
Photo by Christian Schicklgruber
Copper with fire-gilding; 17th century; H: 46 cm.; loan from the Thimphu Dzong
In the state of complete enlightenment, the Buddha's right hand makes the earth-witness gesture, which reminds of the moment of the Buddha's Enlightenment in which he called upon Earth as his witness. His left hand reclines in the gesture of meditation. The clarity of representation mediates the superhuman essence of the Buddha.
The Buddha is meditating under the bodhi tree. He swore not to leave this meditation without attaining the insight that would lead out of the cycle of rebirths. The king of the demons, Mara, tried to interrupt the meditation by sending out his demonic hordes to frighten the Buddha. Additionally he sent his beautiful daughters who performed exciting dances before the meditating Buddha to distract him from his endeavour. The Buddha, however, sat unmoved in his meditation until he attained Enlightenment.
Mural in the Tashichö Dzong, photo by Yoshiro Imaeda