The Second Buddha: Master of Time at The Rubin Museum of Art, February 2, 2018 – January 7, 2019

Photographs by Corrado Serra.

“In 2018, the future will be both present and projected from the past at the Rubin Museum of Art, with a new exhibition where visitors will discover the legends of the tantric master Padmasambhava. An iconic figure in Tibetan culture celebrated as “The Second Buddha,” Padmasambhava is known for bringing Buddhism to Tibet and is believed to have concealed treasure teachings for future discovery. The Second Buddha: Master of Time brings together 41 works of art from the 13th to 20th century with interactive technology, enabling visitors to discover hidden meanings in the artworks.

The legends of the Second Buddha carry universal relevance about triumph over obstacles, transformation, and notions of time. Launching the Rubin’s yearlong theme of ‘The Future,’ the exhibition will highlight the interconnected nature of the past and future, especially the treasure teachings that Padmasambhava is said to have concealed in physical locations and his disciples’ minds for future discovery. Many of the stunning works on view depict these treasure teachings, which were revealed by disciples at opportune times centuries later. To parallel the discovery of these treasure teachings, visitors will also activate and reveal objects in the gallery to find their hidden meanings. Using Augmented Reality (AR) technology in the exhibition, visitors will discover concealed content in several artworks, and motion-responsive lighting effects will reveal select paintings’ inherent power. These experiential elements will add another dimension to the narratives and themes depicted in these works of art.” — The Rubin

Exhibition entrance

Front: Padmasambhava. Tibet; 17th century Gilt. Copper alloy, h. 12.5 x w. 12 x d. 8.5 in. (32 cm x 30 x 22 cm). Museum Rietberg Zurich, Berti Aschmann Collection. Back: Scenes from the Life of Padmasambhava. Bhutan or Tibet; ca. 18th century. Pigments on cloth, h. 47.2441 x 98.4252 in. (120 x 250 cm). Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich.

Padmasambhava as Orgyen Dorje Chang. Tibet; 19th century. Ground mineral pigment on cotton, h. 54 x w. 39 1/2 in. (137.1 x 100.3 cm). Rubin Museum of Art.

Installation view

Right: Padmasambhava. Tibet; 18th century. Pigments on cloth, h. 36 1/2 x 22 3/8 in. (92.7 x 56.8 cm).Rubin Museum of Art.

Left: Padmasambhava. Tibet; 15th century. Silver, gilt copper alloy with inlays of turquoise and coral, h. 6 1/2 x w. 4 3/4 x d. 3 3/4 in. (16.5 x 12.1 x 9.5 cm). Rubin Museum of Art. Right: Padmasambhava with Consorts Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal. Tibet; 17th century. Brass, h. 12 3/5 in. (32 cm). Museum der Kulturen Basel.

Left: Ritual Dagger (kila; purba). Tibet; 14th century. Ebony, ivory with pigments, h. 12 1/4 x w. 3 1/4 x d. 3 1/4 in. (31.1 x 8.2 x 8.2 cm). Rubin Museum of Art. Gift of Carlton and Holly Rochell in honor of Donald Rubin.

Vajrakilaya of the Eight Pronouncements. Tibet; ca. late 13th century. Pigments on cloth, h. 24 x 22 1/2 in. (61 x 57 cm). Collection of Michael and Beata McCormick.

Right: Padmasambhava and the Eight Great Mahasiddhas. Tibet; 19th century. Ground mineral pigment on cotton, h. 57 1/8 x w. 40 7/8 in. (145 x 103.8 cm). Rubin Museum of Art.

Left: Teacher and Treasure Revealer, Terdag Lingpa (1646–1714). Mindroling Monastery, Tibet; 18th century. Pigments on cloth, h. 38 x w. 15 1/8 x d. 1 in. (96.5 x 38.4 x 2.54 cm). Rubin Museum of Art. Center: Padmasambhava with Lineage Teachers. Kham Province, eastern Tibet; 19th century. Distemper on cotton, h. 52 1/2 x w. 29 3/4 x d. 3/4 in. (133.3 x 75.5 x 1.9 cm). Rubin Museum of Art. Right: Teacher and Treasure Revealer, Jatson Nyingpo (1585–1656). Eastern Tibet; 19th century. Pigments on cloth, h. 45 1/4 x w. 25 x d. 1 1/2 in. (114.9 x 63.5 x 3.81 cm). Rubin Museum of Art.

Installation view

Portable Shrine (Tashi Gomang) of Padmasambhava’s Palace on the Copper-Colored Mountain. Bhutan; 18th–19th century. Painted and gilded wood with sun-dried clay figures, h. 30 1/8 x w. 12 x d. 12 in. (76.5 x 30.48 x 30.48 cm). Private Collection.

Padmasambhava Tibet; 19th century Pigments on cloth h. 36.5 x w. 28.75 x d. 1.625 in. (92.7 x 72.8 x 4.0 cm) Rubin Museum of Art.

Ritual Dance Mask of Padmasambhava as Nyima Ozer (One of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche). Bhutan; ca. 18th–19th century. Papier-mâché and pigment, leather, h. 22.047 x 12.598 in. (56 x 32 cm). Courtesy of Bruce Miller Collection.

Padmasambhava and His Eight Manifestations. Tibet; ca. 13th century. Stone, h. 9 1/4 in. (23.49 cm). Fondation Alain Bordier, Tibet Museum, Gruyéres Switzerland.

Padmasambhava and His Eight Manifestations. Tibet; 16th century. Copper alloy, h. 9.625 x w. 6.75 x d. 3.5 in. (24.44 x 17.14 x 8.89 cm). Rubin Museum of Art.

Peaceful and Wrathful Deities of the Intermediate State (Bardo). Tibet, 18th century. Pigments on cloth, h. 57 3/4 x w. 44 1/4 x d. 2 1/4 in. (146.6 x 112.3 x 5.71 cm). Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin.

“The traditional visual culture centered on Padmasambhava offers rich material to explore universal notions that transcend time and cultures,” said Elena Pakhoutova, curator. “Tibetans tie their cultural identity to stories about this famous enlightened master which have been written and rewritten over centuries and are still being told, retold, and expressed in diverse forms of visual and performed arts. The system of concealed treasure teachings continues to sustain the Buddhist tradition today. By presenting the legends embedded in this visual material for a contemporary audience, we invite visitors to think about the interrelated nature of the past and future, how it serves to construct our individual and collective identities, and how we ourselves enable a meaningful future.”

The Second Buddha was curated by Elena Pakhoutova.