Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Chart - Protective Talisman

རེའུ་མིག། བྲིས་ཐང་སྣ་ཚོགས། 表格(绘画种类)
(item no. 29)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Size 40.64x34.29cm (16x13.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.13.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Object/Concept

Interpretation / Description

Protective Talisman Chart (Tibetan: sid pa ho).

A Tibetan astrological chart is an instructional tool and an auspicious talisman that brings good fortune. The central figure is a yellow tortoise, emanation of Manjushri, lying on its back with various diagrams drawn on the flat stomach of the shell. The head is at the top and four limbs protrude from the circle of the body each holding a stick with an impaled corpse. The figure is surrounded by the flames of wisdom and is placed above a pond of blue water. The innermost circle has 9 squares in various colours which contain the 9 magic numbers (Tib.: me wa gu). The middle circle is composed of the 8 trigrams (Tib.: par kha ge) of Chinese origin displayed on a blue wheel atop an orange background. The outer circle is divided into 12 lotus petals and supports the 12 animals of the 60 Year Cycle. The symbols for the five elements are found along the sides.

At the top center is the bodhisattva Manjushri, orange in colour, seated on a lotus, with one face and two hands holding a flaming sword of wisdom in the right and the stem of a lotus at the heart with the left. On the right sits the bodhisattva Vajrapani, blue in colour. On the left sit Avalokiteshvara, white in colour.

Below the central tortoise are two smaller circles containing auspicious protection mantras written with gold lettering. Between these are the symbols of the eight planets; Sun, Moon, Mars (eye), Mercury (hand), Jupiter (kila), Venus (stick), Saturn (sheaf), Rahu (bird head). The first 7 also represent the days of the week.

At the top left is the stylized mantra of Kalachakra, the ten power letters (Tib.: nam chu wang den). At the right the 9 magic numbers are repeated. Vertically along both sides are numerous auspicious letters and symbols in various colours for balancing and subjugating inauspicious circumstances. Along the bottom on a red background, written in gold Tibetan lettering is further explanation of the various symbols.

Jeff Watt 7-98

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