This painted cover for a palm-leaf manuscript belongs to the Pala- Nepalese tradition. It comes from a palm-leaf edition of the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (“Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Verses”).
Seated at centre is Prajnaparamita, the goddess of transcendent wisdom and the personification of the text she holds in a raised hand. Two seated bodhisattvas, Padmapani Lokeshvara and Vajrasattva, attend her. At left are two miraculous events from the life of the historical Buddha: his birth in the Lumbini grove, and his subduing of the enraged elephant Nalagiri at Rajgir. Depicted at right is the Buddha’s first sermon at Sarnath, where he preached to an assembly of monks and bodhisattvas, and the miracle at Shravasti, where he caused a multiplicity of Buddhas to appear.
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley, 10th–11th century © Metropolitan Museum of Art