Mandala of Chakrasamvara

Mandala of Chakrasamvara
Place Made:
Nepal: Kathmandu
dated 1648
Opaque watercolor on cotton 
43-1/2 x 33-1/2 in. (110.5 x 85.1 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

The mandala, a geometric design intended to symbolize the cosmos or a sacred place, is common to Buddhist, Hindu and Jain practices. In two-dimensional Buddhist mandalas, such as this example, the inner circle contains the deity, enclosed within a square palace that has openings or gateways facing the four cardinal directions. This mandala is dedicated to Chakrasamvara and his consort Vajravarahi, who appear in the center. Four concentric circles contain various gods and goddesses who protect the divine pair. Surrounding the palace are eight graveyards, separated by stylized waves representing rivers. These charnel grounds, each presided over by a divine couple, represent the cycle of life, in which pleasure is ephemeral and death is constant.

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