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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Hevajra Mandala

15th century
Distemper on cloth
Image: 21 1/2 × 17 1/2 in. (54.6 × 44.5 cm) Framed: 28 1/2 × 24 1/2 in. (72.4 × 62.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Stephen and Sharon Davies Collection, 2015
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 251
Hevajra appears here in his three-headed and four-armed form. This manifestation is drawn from the Hevajra Tantra, a text revered by the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism, possibly the patrons of this painting. Hevajra and his consort Nairatmya dance at the intersection of four vajra gateways, indicating their position at the center of the cosmos. Hevajra’s name is composed of two syllables, “he,” compassion, representing the male aspect, and “Vajra,” wisdom, the female aspect, which together offer the path beyond the illusory world. The repeating skull symbolism references death and the impermanence of all phenomena. Beyond the celestial palace are the eight great charnel grounds, each presided over by a yogic master, or mahasiddha. On the reverse are inscriptions in an ornate Tibetan lantsa script of the Sanskrit mantra OH AH HUM and of mantra syllables configured in a stupa silhouette. This painting is likely the work of a Newari artist from Nepal working for a Tibetan patron.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Arts of Nepal and Tibet: Recent Gifts," January 16, 2016–January 15, 2017.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cosmic Buddhas in the Himalayas," June 24, 2017–December 10, 2017.

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