A thangka, also known as tangka, thanka or tanka is a painting on silk with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala of some sort. Thangka serve as important teaching tools, depicting the life (or lives) of the Buddha, influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas, or important historical or mythical events. A non-person subject could be The Wheel of Life, which is a visual representation of the Abhidharma teachings (Art of Enlightenment). Although technically not "worshipped" in the western sense of icons or idols, devotional images act as the centerpiece during a ritual or ceremony and are often used as mediums through which one can offer prayers or make requests. Overall, and perhaps most importantly, Buddhist religious art is used as a meditation tool to help bring one further down the path to enlightenment. The Buddhist Vajrayana practitioner uses a thangka image of their yidam, or meditation deity, as a guide, by visualizing “themselves as being that deity, thereby internalizing the Buddha qualities.” Buddha Shakyamuni, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha & original source of contemporary Buddhism, was born approximately 2500 years ago at Lumbini in Nepal. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (samyaksaṃbuddha) of our age, "Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." Gautama Buddha may also be referred to as Śākyamuni (Sanskrit: शाक्यमुनि "Sage of the Śākyas"). In this particular thangka, Sakyamuni sits in meditation using the Bhumisparsha Mudrā. The "earth witness" Buddha is one of the most common iconic images of Buddhism. It depicts the Buddha sitting in meditation with his left hand, palm upright, in his lap, and his right hand touching the earth. This represents the moment of the Buddha's enlightenment. Just before the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, realized enlightenment, it is said the demon Mara attacked him with armies of monsters to frighten Siddhartha from his seat under the bodhi tree. But the about-to-be Buddha did not move. Then Mara claimed the seat of enlightenment for himself, saying his spiritual accomplishments were greater than Siddhartha's. Mara's monstrous soldiers cried out together, "I am his witness!" Mara challenged Siddhartha, "who will speak for you?" Then Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth, and the earth itself roared, "I bear you witness!" Mara disappeared. And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha.