Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Pratisara (Buddhist Deity) - (Four faces, Eight Hands)

སོ་སོར་འབྲང་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 随求佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 274)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Ngor (Sakya) and Buddhist
Size 40.64x33.02cm (16x13in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# c2003.50.6
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Pratisara and the Pancha Raksha Fifty-six Deity Mandala. At the center is Maha Pratisara, followed by Maha Sahasrapramardini, Mahamayuri, Shitavati and Mantramanudharani. [See Pancha Raksha Main Page].

The Five Protectors are a group of five deities that are the personifications of five early Buddhist texts (sutra), the oldest dated to the 4th century A.D. The personifications are also of the special verbal utterances called mantras. These five deities each have specific functions and are directed towards accomplishing worldly welfare and happiness, preventing and surviving natural disasters, curing snakebite, overcoming fear and averting pestilence and epidemics.

There are many forms for each these five deities, with multiple heads and arms, and many different traditions of practice. They are popular throughout the Himalayas and Central Asia and can also be found in China and Japan.

The top registers contain the lineage of teachers beginning with the bodhisattva Vajrapani at the top left. In the bottom right corner are the two principal protectors of the Sakya Tradition, Panjarnata Mahakala and Shri Devi. At the bottom center are two wealth deities, yellow Vasudhara and a red Ganapati. At the far left sits a donor figure in front of a table of offerings.

English References:

Religions of India In Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Princeton University Press, 1995. The Power of Mantra: A Story of the Five Protectors. Todd T Lewis, pp.227-234.

Popular Buddhist Texts from Nepal, Narratives and Rituals of Newar Buddhism. Todd T. Lewis. Translations in Collaboration with Subarna Man Tuladhar and Labh Ratna Tuladhar. Foreward by Gregory Schopen. State University of New York Press, 2000. Chapter 6. The Refuge of Recitation: The Pancaraksa, pp.119-164.

Jeff Watt 5-2002 / 5-2005

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mandala: Mandala Main Page
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Pancha Raksha Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art (RMA): Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum: Mandala Masterworks
Painting Style: Tibet (Balri)
Buddhist Deity: Pancha Raksha Art History
Buddhist Deity: Pancha Raksha (56 Deity)
Buddhist Deity: Pancha Raksha (Mandalas)
Collection of RMA: Ngor Style Paintings
Painting Style: Gyantse Scroll Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Pratisara Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mandala