Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Vajrapani (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - (Sarvadurgati Tantra, Eight Nagas)

ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ། 金刚手菩萨
(item no. 83)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya and Ngor (Sakya)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.6.1
Painting School Ngor
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vajrapani and the mandala of the Eight Great Nagas from the Parishodhana Tantra.

Within the center of the two dimensional circular diagram (mandala) representing the top view of a three dimensional celestial palace and surroundings is Vajrapani, white in colour, with one face and two hands, holding in the right a vajra to the heart and with the left a bell at the left hip; adorned with ornaments of jewel and garments of silk, with a green aureole and blue nimbus behind.

In the surrounding four main and intermediate directions on a large eight petalled lotus are the Eight Great Nagas and consorts: Ananta, Takshaka, Karkota, Kulika, Vasuki, Shankhapala, Padma, and Varuna; blue, white, red and yellow in colour, with one face and two hands holding their own unique symbols each embracing a consort in the same appearance as themselves. The heads are crowned by the hoods of five snakes with the lower body in the form of a snake with a spotted coiled tail; adorned with jewel and gold ornaments.

The floor of the palace is divided into four colours; red, green, yellow and blue. The outer square enclosure composed of variously coloured lines are the four palace walls, with a red veranda outside, adorned with 16 offering goddesses of various colours. Each of the four doors (T shaped) has a guardian. The outermost stylized square represents the ornate roof. The palace rests on a circle of decorative lotus patterns surrounded by the ring of five coloured flames of pristine awareness. Each corner is adorned with a vase and lotus motif enriched with green vines, white circular blossoms and auspicious emblems.

The mandala of Vajrapani and the Eight Great Nagas belongs to the set of 12 mandalas arising from the Sarvadurgati Parishodhana Tantra (Eliminating all Bad Rebirths) of the Yoga classification of the Sarma Schools. (See the painting Vajrapani and the 4 Direction Kings from the same set and another related mandala of Vajrapani and the Four Great Kings).

The painting is executed in Nepali style popular in the early period of Ngor monastary evidenced by the strong red and blue colours, copious floral patterning and rigid adherence to geometric form.

Jeff Watt 8-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mandala: Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery II
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Main Page (Peaceful + Wrathful)
Painting Style: Tibet (Balri)
Painting: Subject Types & Categories
Mandalas: Sakya Tradition
Tradition: Ngor Main Page (Sakya)
Buddhist Deity: Sarvavid, Parishodhana Tantra
Painting Style: Ngor Mandalas
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani & the Eight Great Nagas
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Mandalas
Buddhist Deity: Sarvadurgati Tantra Mandalas (Masterworks)
Painting Set: Sarvadurgati Parishodhana (Ngor)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrapani Masterworks (Painting)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mandala