Mandala of the Bodhisattva Hannya (Prajnaparamita)


Not on view

The bodhisattva at the center of this mandala personifies the “perfection of wisdom,” a supreme understanding of the nature of things that is fundamental to Mahayana Buddhist teachings. The mandala would have been used during sutra recitations and other rituals. The bodhisattva, holding a scripture, is attended by Bonten and Taishakuten (Sanskrit: Brahma and Indra), major Hindu deities adopted into the Buddhist pantheon as protectors of the faith.

The mandala imagines a tiered space with a series of gates leading from the outside in through increasingly sacred registers. A monk near a gate at the bottom is a reminder of the material world. At the periphery are dragons, a phoenix, and apsaras playing music. Dozens of demigods in the gray register serve as protectors of the Sixteen Benevolent Deities in the green area, and the holiest sector features the central triad on a blue platform.

Mandala of the Bodhisattva Hannya (Prajnaparamita), Hanging scroll; ink, color, gold, and gold foil on silk, Japan

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