Gyantse Kumbum Pelkor Chode
Eyes that follow her
A Kumbum (Tibetan: "One hundred thousand holy images"; Wylie: Sku-'bum) is a multi-storied aggregate of Buddhist chapels in Tibet.
The first Kumbum was founded in the fire-sheep year 1427 by a Gyantse prince. It has nine lhakangs or levels, is 35 metres (115 ft) high surmounted by a golden dome, and contains 77 chapels which line its walls. Many of the statues were damaged during the Cultural Revolution but have since been replaced with clay images, but they lack the artistic merit of the originals. The 14th century murals showing Newari and Chinese influences, survived much better.
The Kumbum or great gomang (many-doored) chorten at Gyantse is a three dimensional mandala, meant to portray the Buddhist cosmos. The Kumbum, like other mandalas, which are portrayed by a circle within a square, enables the devotee to take part in the Buddhist perception of the universe and can depict one's potential as they move through it. Mandalas are meant to aid an individual on the path to enlightenment. The Kumbum holds a vast number of images of deities throughout its structure with Vajradhara (Sanskrit:Vajradhāra, Tibetan: rdo rje 'chang (Dorje Chang), English: Vajraholder), the cosmic Buddha, at the top.
"The lhakangs of the nine levels of the Kumbum, decreasing in number at each level, are structured according to the compendium of Sakya tantras called Drubtab Kantu. Thus each lhakang and each level creates a mandala, and the entire Kumbum represents a three-dimensional path to the Buddha's enlightenment in terms of increasingly subtle tantric mandalas.