Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Chart - Protective Talisman

རེའུ་མིག། བྲིས་ཐང་སྣ་ཚོགས། 表格(绘画种类)
(item no. 255)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Uncertain
Size 67.31x48.26cm (26.50x19in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.11.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Object/Concept

Interpretation / Description

Protective Talisman, (Tibetan: sid pa ho).

At the top center is Manjushri, orange in colour, with one face and two hands holding an upraised sword in the right and a lotus stem to the heart with the left, the blossom supporting the Prajnaparamita book. Manjushri, the patron bodhisattva of astrology is seated on a lotus in vajra posture surrounded by a blue and orange nimbus.

The central image is a yellow tortoise lying on the back with the head to the top and the four limbs extended holding staves with impaled corpses. At the center of the round flat belly is a circle of nine multi-coloured squares containing the 9 magic numbers (Tib.: mewa gu). Surrounding that, on a dark blue wheel and brown background are the 8 trigrams (Tib.: parkha ge) of Chinese origin, each in a different colour. The outer circle of various colours represents the elements; wood, fire, iron, water and earth. Pictured within are the 12 animal figures of the 60 Year cycle. Starting from the top green square on the left and moving to the right is a hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog, boar, mouse, ox and tiger. Outside of that, the tortoise, an emanation of Manjushri, is completely surrounded by flames.

Below the central figure are two smaller mandala circles of auspicious verses containing dark blue protection wheels with mantras in the center. The left circle is also on the belly of a tortoise and contains the 8 trigrams. Between the two are the symbols of the planets - also representing the days of the week; sun, moon, eye, hand, kila, arrowhead, sheaf and bird head.

At the top left is the Kalachakra mantra, the ten power letters (Tib.: nam chu wang den). Below that, are the protective seals for the 12 Year cycle and the 'Earth Lords and Ministers.' At the top right corner is the seal of Padmasambhava as a set of multi-coloured squares with auspicious verses and mantras. Below that are the seals of protection against nagas, 'nyen,' earth lords and the seal of the 'sid pa ho' astrological chart. At the bottom of the painting, on a yellow background, are lists of the various planetary and elemental influences that are controlled by these auspicious symbols. The list is concluded with the mantra of 'Dependant Arising.'

The Tibetan system of astrology derives from two main sources, the early Manjushri system and the later Kalachakra Tantra system.

Jeff Watt 7-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Painting Type: Charts Main Page
Charts: Sidpaho Protective Charts
Charts: Protective Talisman