Chakrasamvara Mandala

Period: Thakuri–early Malla periods

Date: ca. 1100

Culture: Nepal, Kathmandu Valley

Medium: Distemper on cloth

Dimensions: Image: 26 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. (67.3 x 50.2 cm); Framed: 48 x 33 in. (121.9 x 83.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.233


This ritual diagram (mandala) is conceived as the cosmic palace of the wrathful Chakrasamvara and his consort, Vajravarahi, seen at center. These deities embody the esoteric knowledge of the Yoga Tantras. Six goddesses on stylized lotus petals surround the divine couple. Framing the mandala are the eight great burial grounds of India, each presided over by a deity beneath a tree. The cemeteries are appropriate places for meditation on Chakrasamvara and are emblematic of the various realms of existence. The lower register contains five forms of the goddess Tara, a tantric adept at left, and two donors at right. This mandala is one of the earliest surviving large-scale paintings known from Nepal. Stylistic features relate it to Nepalese manuscript covers and to eastern Indian palm-leaf manuscript illustrations of the twelfth century.