Image 10: Group of Eleven Figures on Clouds

Shambhala and the Prague Thangka: The Myth’s Visual Representation

Image 10: Group of Eleven Figures on Clouds

These are not warriors, as they do not wear uniforms; they are ten human figures and a bodhisattva. The eleven figures are arranged in three rows in the shape of a pyramid. Only two of them do not ride on a mount. At the right end of the lowest row is the eleven-headed bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara (Tib. sPyan ras gzigs, Chenrezig). The other figure without a mount stands second from the left in the same row. All the figures, except the rider on a white elephant to Avalokiteśvara’s right, are naked from the waist up; they wear only a green, blue, or orange shawl around their neck and shoulders. The elephant rider wears traditional Mongolian attire (deel), which consists of an upper coat without buttons, girded with a fabric belt. He is the only so-clad figure in the thangka (except for the Kalápa inhabitants, all of whom wear such attire). All human figures in the group have long black hair woven into topknots. Six of them ride white horses, two ride white elephants, and only one—on the far left in the lowest row—rides a blue, horned animal (perhaps a buffalo, a bull, or a yak crossbreed). It is remarkable that Avalokiteśvara is not situated at the top of the pyramid.