Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Chart - Protective Talisman

རེའུ་མིག། བྲིས་ཐང་སྣ་ཚོགས། 表格(绘画种类)
(item no. 28)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Uncertain
Size 51.44x38.74cm (20.25x15.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.13.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Object/Concept

Interpretation / Description

Astrological Chart (Tibetan: sid pa ho).

As both an instructional tool and auspicious talisman the stylized astrological chart brings good fortune to all those who see, display or possess it. The painting is a congregation of astrological, calendar and primary element symbols. The central image is of a yellow tortoise - emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri, lying on the back with the head to the top and the four limbs extended holding green squares in the claws. In the center of the round flat belly is a circle of nine variously coloured squares containing the 9 magic numbers (Tib.: me wa gu). Surrounding, on a black wheel against an orange background are the 8 trigrams (Tib.: par kha ge) of Chinese origin. The outer circle contains the 12 animal figures of the 60 Year Cycle; surrounded by the outer edge of tortoise shell. At both sides the symbols of the planets are used to represent the days of the week; sun, moon, eye, hand, arrow, kila, sheaf and the head of a bird representing Rahu (eclipse). The five elements of earth, fire, water, iron and wood are represented by the green squares in the claws, the surrounding fire, blue pond of water below, vajra sceptre above the pond and the green leafed sprig from a tree at the left side.

At the top center is padmasambhava, holding a vajra and skullcup, richly attired and seated in a relaxed posture. At the right is the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, white, with one face and two hands, holding a lotus in the left. In the right corner is the peaceful form of Vajrapani, blue, with one face and two hands holding a vajra upraised in the right. At the left corner is Manjushri, orange, holding a sword and lotus. Below that, as a seal, is the combined mantra of Kalachakra, the ten power letters (Tib.: nam chu wang den), written in gold on a red background with a blue border. At the right side is the seal of Padmasambhava Guru Rinpoche composed of various mantras and verses written in black lettering on a multi-coloured chequered background bordered with a red frame.

Below the central figure are two smaller mandala circles containing protection wheels with the left on the belly of a tortoise. Both circles contain mantras and verses to bring about good fortune and counteract badly aspected planets and days. Along the left side, written vertically, are the protective seals for the 12 year cycle and the ?Earth Lords and Ministers,? Along the right side are the seals of protection against nagas, ?nyen? spirits and the like. The bottom of the painting is filled with a series of multi-coloured squares of finely written auspicious verses and mantras protecting from all types of astrological and calendrical obstacles. 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 6
Painting Type: Charts Main Page
Charts: Protective Talisman
Charts: Sidpaho Protective Charts
Painting Main Page: Painting & Composition (Flat Art)
Subject: Diagrammatic Art Main Page