Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Chakrasamvara (Mandala Deity Assembly)

Chakrasamvara Iconography

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Register Composition
- Floating Composition
- Refuge Field: Example #58854
- Mandala (Early Works)
- Mandala Masterworks
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Video: Mandala Deity Assembly

Key Points:
- All mandala figures included in the composition
- Register/Floating composition
- No mandala circle or palace structure

These compositions are NOT square mandalas but rather a visual inventory of all of the secondary figures that would make up a mandala of Chakrasamvara. The two primary figures are Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini at the center of the composition. They are larger than all of the other figures. There are two types of composition, register and floating figure. The register compositions are laid out in a grid pattern, vertical and horizontal. The secondary figures of the mandala are arranged neatly in rows filling the grid pattern. The floating figure composition arranges the secondary figures in a seemingly random order surrounding the two central; figures.

What is missing from these paintings is the physical structure and architecture of the mandala which is primarily made up of a large outer circle and an inner square palace. In an actual mandala configuration the two central figures would be depicted much smaller in size. The retinue figures of the mandala would be arranged in three concentric circles around the two primary figures. A square palace enclosure outside of the circles would contain four more door guardian figures, sometimes called gate-keepers. Outside of that is a large circle containing the Eight Great Cemeteries surrounded by a ring of fire in five colours.

The images below principally depict the full sixty-two deity entourage of Chakrasamvara according to the systems of mahasiddhas Luipa and Krishnacharin in a single composition. The siddhas Ghantapa and Maitripa mandalas have fewer retinue deities. Heruka Chakrasamvara is often depicted with four surrounding retinue deities.

Jeff Watt 1-2017 [updated 8-2017, 9-2021]