Mandala of the Bodhisattva Monju (Manjushri) of the Eight Syllables


Not on view

This intricate painting served a central role in an Esoteric Buddhist ritual intended to prevent natural disasters and illness. The primary deity, the bodhisattva Monju (Manjushri in Sanskrit), appears in the middle of the central white orb. Immediately surrounding him are eight Sanskrit letters written in gold, representing the eight sounds of the incantation at the heart of this ritual as well as Monju’s eight youthful messengers. Four protective, wrathful deities known as Wisdom Kings appear just outside this most sacred sector of the mandala. The twenty-four subsidiary deities who occupy the outermost band consist of eight bodhisattvas, eight celestials (corresponding to the ordinal and cardinal directions of the compass), and their eight concubines, for a total of thirty-seven deities across three sectors of the painting.

Mandala of the Bodhisattva Monju (Manjushri) of the Eight Syllables, Hanging scroll; ink, color, gold, and gold leaf on silk, Japan

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