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Mandala (Satchakravarti Samvara Mandala)
Mandala for the Circle of Bliss Teachings
Named the "Satchakravarti Samvara Mandala"
Thangka (Hanging Painting)

Artist/maker unknown, Tibetan

Made in Tibet, Asia
Probably made in Ngor Monastery, Tsang Province, Tibet, Asia

c. 15th century

Colors on cloth; cloth mounting

Image: 32 1/4 × 28 1/2 inches (81.9 × 72.4 cm) Mount: 52 × 32 inches (132.1 × 81.3 cm) Frame: 60 1/4 × 35 1/2 × 2 1/8 inches (153 × 90.2 × 5.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the John T. Morris Fund, 1963

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In Tibetan Buddhism the term “mandala” usually refers to a purified and sacred cosmos that is visualized by practitioners in the form of the celestial mansion of a tantric buddha. Thus this painting is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional residence. The mansion contains four elaborate gateways and is surrounded by a ring of lotuses and a wall of fire. Inside, the central deity of the mandala, Jnanadaka, shown in sexual union with his consort, sits within his own smaller mandala. This in turn is surrounded by five other small mandalas, each housing another buddha. Depicted in the upper and lower registers and in the four corners are deities associated with the Chakrasamvara (Circle of Bliss) teachings, to which this mandala belongs.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This Nepali painting, compact in design and strong in color contrasts, contains a mandala--a large circle enclosing a square--which is a symbolic diagram of a divine "temple." Such images are used by Buddhist worshipers to help them reach a state of focused concentration through meditation and prepare them for their ultimate encounter with the Absolute, symbolized by the central image of the Buddha. The mandala itself is a sacred circular field bordered on its exterior by a rim of flames, which is separated by a narrow girdle of vajras, or "thunderbolts," from an inner rim of lotus petals. These three borders signify the fire of consciousness, which consumes ignorance; supreme consciousness, which is indestructible like the thunderbolt; and spiritual rebirth, which is symbolized by the lotus. Four elaborate gate structures lead into the fortified temple square, which is shown as if in bird's eye view. Lacelike scrollwork impregnates the ground, and the five images of Buddhas, with their consorts in the smaller mandalas and the main deity in the center, seem to float eerily above it. Stella Kramrisch, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 55.