late 15th century
Color on cloth
Overall: 40.6 x 35.6 cm (16 x 14 in.)
James Parmelee Fund 1960.211
A mandala is a two-dimensional diagram of a palatial structure, viewed from above. This mandala depicts the abode of the four-headed, twelve-armed enlightened being Chakrasamvara who dances in the bliss of sexual union with his consort, the red Vajravarahi, in the central circle, which is equivalent to the topmost story of their palace. Through guided meditation Buddhist practitioners can visualize entering through each of the four gates and experiencing the beauty of the enlightened realm to encourage them on their own path to enlightenment. The outermost ring of cremation grounds indicates that one must overcome death before reaching the realm of enlightenment. In the corners are four auspicious symbols (clockwise from top left): umbrella (an emblem of royalty), pot (referencing abundance), pair of fish (symbol of productivity), and conch shell (indicating the eradication of obstacles).
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