Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Deity

(item no. 81826)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya, Ngor (Sakya) and Buddhist
Size 81.92x73.66cm (32.25x29in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Four Vajravali Mandalas: Vajradhatu, Shakya Simha, Bhutadamara and Marichi.

Vajravali, Ngor Mandala. (Tibetan: dor je treng wa): painting #13 from a set of fourteen paintings, with a possible fifteenth painting as the centerpiece, depicting the forty-two mandalas of the Vajravali Ritual text compiled by Abhayakaragupta in the 11th century. Currently only seven others from the set are known. The Guimet Museum in Paris (#2), the Kimball Museum in Texas (#14) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (#5) each have one painting. The four remaining paintings are found in private collections in Europe and the USA (#7, #8, Kalachakra #11, Vairochana Manjuvajra #13 shown above). The Kimball Museum painting is the last in the sequence and portrays the last four mandalas of the Vajravali series as constructed by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo.

The paintings were commissioned by Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (1382-1456) between 1430 and 1456 to commemorate the passing of one of his principal spiritual teachers, Sazang Pagpa Shonnu Lodro (1358-1412/1424). The work was done at Ngor Monastery, Tsang Province, Tibet, by six Newar artists from Kathmandu Valley including the artist Wanguli and his brother.

The four mandalas pictured in this painting are: at the top left Vajradhatu fifty-three deity mandala (Vajravali #37 or #23), top right Navoshnisha Shakyasimha thirty-seven deity mandala (Vajravali #38 or #24), bottom left Bhutadamara Vajrapani thirty-three deity mandala (Vajravali #40 or #26), and bottom right Marichi twenty-five deity mandala (Vajravali #41 or #27).

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has another painting from a different Vajravali set but likely from the same atelier and time period titled Six Chakravartins as does the Freer Gallery of Art with a painting depicting four mandalas.

See Early Tibetan Mandalas: The Rossi Collection.

Also see: Sacred Visions, Early paintings from Central Tibet. Steven M. Kossak and Jane Casey Singer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998. (Exhibition web page).

Jeff Watt 3-2007

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [Top inscription] Vajravali painting thirteen.

[Bottom inscription]

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: [Top inscription] rdo rje phreng wa'i ras bris bcu gsum.

[Bottom inscription]

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: RMA Masterworks, January 28th, 2021
Exhibition: From the Land of the Gods: Art of the Kathmandu Valley
Exhibition: Mandala, The Perfect Circle (RMA)

HAR: Jeff Watt - Profile
Tantra Classification: Charya Tantra (Performance)
Publication: Selection of Works - Painting (RMA)

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Manjushri (Painting Masterworks)
Subject: Vajravali Painting Set Page
RMA: How or Why an Object was Acquired
Collection of Rubin Museum (Interesting Mandalas)
Mandala: Masterworks Page
Mandala: Shape, Form & Composition
Tradition: Ngor Main Page (Sakya)
Collection of RMA: Ngor Style Paintings
Subject: Ngor Masterworks
Subject: Vajravali Main Page
Subject: Greyscale - Figurative & General Composition
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara
Buddhist Deity: Manjushri (Mandala)
Collection of RMA: Best of Collection 1
Buddhist Deity: Marichi (Mandalas)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara (Charya Tantra)
Collection of RMA: Painting Masterworks Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Subjects
Buddhist Deity: Manjushri Religious Context
Buddhist Deity: Marichi Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 4
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mandala
Tantra Classification: Charya Tantra Masterworks
Collection of Rubin Museum: Mandala Masterworks (Curator's Selection)
Painting Style: Ngor Mandalas
Painting Set: Vajravali (Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo)
Buddhist Deity: Marichi (Masterworks)
Mandala: Four Mandala Composition
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani, Bhutadamara (Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Manjushri Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Marichi, Kalpoktam (Three Faces & Six Arms)
Collection of Rubin Museum: Mandala Masterworks