Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Inscriptions, Backs of Paintings

Inscriptions on Backs of Paintings | Backs of Paintings Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Back of Painting Inscriptions Description (below)
- Consecration & De-consecration
- Inscriptions
- Stupa Drawing
- Hand Prints
- Mandalas
- Miscellaneous
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

There are several categories of inscriptions that can appear on the back of a painting. In order of occurrence there are three standard elements included and two elements relating to the subject of the painting and the wishes of the donor:

1. Three Syllables: OM, AH, HUM (standard)
2. Auspicious Mantras (standard)
3. Auspicious Verses (standard)
4. Miscellaneous Extra Verses (donor added)
5. Dedicatory Verses (donor added)

Examples of Standard Dharani and Verses:

- om, ah, hum, hrih, tram

- om bhrum svaha

- Om sarva vidya svaha

- Om vajra ayushe svaha

- Om supra tishtha vajraya [vajraye] svaha

- Sarva mangalam
Ye Dharma Formula:
- Om ye dharma hetu prabhava hetum tesham tathagato hyavadat tesham cha yo nirodha evam vadi maha shramana svaha

Translation: "All phenomena arise from causes;
Those causes have been taught by the Tathagata,
And their cessation too has been proclaimed by the Great Shramana." (Rigpa Shedra translation).
Patience Verse:
"Patience for hardships is noble patience, [Leading to] supreme liberation, the Buddha has said.
With respect to others, Monks should do no harm or cause distress."

Jeff Watt 4-2013 [updated 9-2017]

The Consecration of Images and Stupas in Indo-Tibetan Tantric Buddhism. Yael Bentor. Leiden, 1996.

Sutra Style Consecrations. Yael Bentor.

Consecration of a Buddha Image. Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen. Translated by Yael Bentor.

Inside Tibetan Images. Yael Bentor.

Mirror Consecration. Yael Bentor.