Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Chakrasamvara (Buddhist Deity)

འཁོར་ལོ་བདེ་མཆོག། ནང་ལྷ། 勝樂金剛 (全图)
(item no. 59648)
Origin Location Nepal
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Chakrasamvara Body Mandala depicted according to the Newar Tradition of Kathmandu, Nepal. Each of the mandala deities is accompanied by a Sanskrit name inscription written in Devnagari script. The figures are sixty-two in number and follow precisely the list of deities that make up the sixty-two deity Chakrasamvara Mandala.

It is not common to create paintings of body mandalas and only a few are known in the Tantric Buddhist tradition. (See the Body Mandala Main Page and a short article Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Mandalas Part II).

A seated human figure is depicted at the center of the composition which represents an individual Buddhist Tantric practitioner. Over-laying the body and to the sides are numerous circles of deities. These figures represent the internal Body Mandala for the Tantric Buddhist system of the Chakrasamvara Tantra which typically has sixty-two deities in the external mandala. These same sixty-two deities are again located at various places within the physical human body of the practitioner - hence the body mandala, or internal body mandala.

Internal Body Mandala concepts and theories are common to many religious and spiritual traditions of Asia such as the Shaiva, Shakta, Yoga, Tantric Buddhist, Bon and Taoist Traditions.

In the Kagyu Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism these same sixty-two deities are also super-imposed onto the Tibetan landscape and many pilgrimage sites have been created, named, or claimed as part of the greater geographical Chakrasamvara mandala. Over the centuries, many Bon pilgrimage sites were also taken over and claimed to be holy for the practices of Chakrasamvara. Mount Kailash in West Tibet is claimed to be the center of the Tibetan geographical mandala with the top of Mount Kailash as the abode of Chakrasamvara and the female consort Vajrayogini. (Also see Purelands & Sacred Geography).

Mount Kailash is still holy according to Bon belief and is sacred for the two wrathful deities Walchen Gekho and Zhangzhung Meri.

Jeff Watt 8-2011

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [Name inscriptions for all of the deity figures]

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mandala: Types of Mandalas Glossary List
Buddhist Deity: Chakrasamvara Main Page
Subject: Deity Yoga
Subject: Layered Deities & Figures
Mandala: Body Mandala Main Page
Mandala: Body Mandala (Buddhist)