Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Vajrapani (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - (Sarvadurgati Tantra, Four Kings)

ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ། 金刚手菩萨
(item no. 335)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Uncertain
Size 44.45x34.29cm (17.50x13.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.22.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vajrapani and the Mandala of the Four Great Kings (Tibetan: chag na dor je dang gyal chen shi'i kyil kor): from the Parishodhana Tantra.

Sanskrit: Vajrapani Tibetan: chag na dor je

Within the center of the two-dimensional circular diagram (mandala) representing the top view of a three-dimensional celestial palace and surroundings is Vajrapani, green in colour, seated. With one face and two hands, he holds a vajra in the right and a bell in the left with the cup turned up at the hip. Adorned with jewels and silks he is surrounded by an orange and red nimbus.

In the surrounding circle, to the right is Vaishravana, leader of the Four Kings, yellow in colour, holding a mace in the right hand and a mongoose in the left, seated on a lion. At the bottom is Dritarashtra, dark green, playing a 'vina' (stringed instrument). To the left is Virudhaka, blue in colour, holding a sword in the right hand. At the top is Virupaksha, red, with one face and two hands holding a stupa (Sanskrit: caitya, reliquary container with spire) and a snake lasso in the left hand. All four are adorned with jewel ornaments and fine silks, richly attired in ornate gowns and surrounded by a red nimbus. Between each is a vase tied with a green scarf and adorned with a lotus flower at the top.

The floor of the celestial palace is divided into four colours, red, green, white and yellow. The outer red, yellow and blue lines forming a square enclosure represent the palace walls, red veranda outside of the palace and the stylized decorative facade on the four sides of the palace roof. The lintels above each of the four doors ('T' shaped) are constructed of four tiered steps, red, blue, green, and yellow, topped with a small Dharma wheel and two reclining deer with a pink silk canopy above. Each door is protected by a door guardian; Vajrankusha, Vajrapasha, Vajrasphota and Vajravesha; each with one face and two hands, the same colour as the direction, holding a hook, lasso, chain and bell.

The palace is placed squarely on a horizontal multi-coloured double vajra (Sanskrit: visvavajra) with only the prongs and makara heads (an Indian mythological sea creature) appearing on the four sides. Surrounding that is a ring of multi-coloured (rectangular) lotus petals (Skt.: padmavali). Outside of that is a ring of small gold vajras and lines on a dark blue background. The final ring is composed of the multi-coloured fires (Skt.: jvalavali) of primordial wisdom completely surrounding the entire structure on a background of dark blue wave designs.

Referred to as the mandala of the 'Four Great Kings' this is one of a set of 12 mandalas arising from the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra (Eliminating All Bad Rebirths). This is classified as Yoga Tantra.

Jeff Watt 7-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mandala: Mandala Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Main Page
Painting Style: Tibet (Balri)
Buddhist Deity: Sarvavid, Parishodhana Tantra
Painting Style: Ngor Mandalas
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Mandalas
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani & Four Kings (Sarvadurgati)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani (Peaceful Iconic Figures)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mandala
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Peaceful, Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani (peaceful, vajra & bell)
Buddhist Deity: Sarvavid (Vajrapani Mandalas)