Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Hidden Images In Painting

Art Depicted in Art

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Hidden Images in Painting Description (below)
[1] Sanctification Hidden Images
[2] Artist's Hidden Images
- Outline Page
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Video: Hidden Images

Sometimes mantras, chakras and mandalas can all be found under the painted surface of on the front of a religious painting. This practice does not appear to be widespread but it has been found with some Tibetan Buddhist paintings that were X-rayed during the course of conservation.

Traditionally, verses of benediction, mantras, dharanis, and an outline drawing of a stupa, were placed on the back or reverse side of a painting. This was commonly done with paintings originating in West Tibet and less so for central Tibet.

There is also a tradition among some artists to include hidden images meant for the enjoyment of other artists. The paintings below have a snow lion, parasol, vase, three jewels, dog's head, vajra scepter, and many more hidden treasures. Sometimes the images are very easy to see and at other times they are very difficult to find. Can you find the hidden images?

Jeff Watt [updated 1-2017, 8-2017, 7-2020]