Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Base for a Mandala

Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
15th century
Cloisonné enamel
H. 3 in. (7.6 cm); Diam. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1992
Accession Number:
Not on view
Ceremonial mandalas were used in later forms of Buddhism, including Esoteric Buddhism, which is noted for its complicated pantheon and rituals. Esoteric Buddhism, which developed in India between the fourth and eighth centuries, flourished in Tibet from the tenth century and was influential at the Chinese court after the fourteenth.

This base, most likely produced for use in Tibet, once supported a three-dimensional mandala that probably comprised small sculptures, models of temples and stupas, or colored sands. The decoration combines lotus flowers (Buddhist symbols of purity) at the top with the Eight Buddhist Treasures at the sides. The traditional treasures—a conch, a lotus, a wheel, a parasol, an endless knot, a pair of fish, a banner, and a treasure vase—are here augmented with other auspicious motifs such as coral. Each treasure appears atop a lotus flower.
[ David Tremayne Ltd. , London, until 1992; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Defining Yongle, Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China," April 1, 2005–July 10, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The "Hundred Antiques"," February 18, 2006–October 31, 2006.

New York. Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. "Cloisonné: Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties," January 25, 2011–April 17, 2011.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Red and Black: Chinese Lacquer, 13th–16th Century," September 7, 2011–June 10, 2012.

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