Abstract

This essay argues that the design strategies of the murals in the Akaniṣṭha Shrine, the top-floor shrine at Tāranātha's Takden Phuntsokling, were intended to provoke in the viewer a type of absorption compatible with Tibetan Buddhist values. This would have been in line with contemporaneous recognition of the potential for consecrated works of art to provide direct contact with the deity depicted. By eliminating framing and boundaries between scenes, minimizing inscriptions, employing the gaze to foster internal and external coherence, and using detailing, highlighting, and a painterly illusion of proximity, the murals invite the beholder to engage with an aesthetic of presence.

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