About the Artwork

This exquisite mandala is an accurate copy from the famous series of twenty-seven mandalas that were painted in the late 14th century by a group of Newar artists for the Ngor Monastery in Tibet. As a Sakya 'yogini' or mother-tantra mandala it is unusual in that the positions of the yellow southern and green northern quadrants are reversed. Jnanadakini (Tib. Yeshe Khandroma), the 'sky-going dakini of prajna or pristine awareness', is a blue-black manifestation of Vajravarahi and Vajrayogini with three faces and six arms, and she sits in the central chamber of her thirteen-deity mandala. The other four cardinal dakinis on the central dais are white Vajra (east), blue Ghora (north), red Vetali (west), and yellow Candali (south). In the inter-cardinal corners are lioness-faced Simhini (NE), tigress-faced Vyaghri (NW), jackal-faced Jambuki (SW), and owl-faced Uluki (SE). And guarding the mandala's four directional gateways are white Rajanti (east), blue Dipini (north), red Cushini (west), and yellow Kambhoji (south).

Every minute detail of the mandala palace's complex structure have been meticulously painted, and the intricate golden lotus border that surrounds the entire composition is a painstaking work of art in itself. In the corner sections that surround the four protection wheels of the lotus-womb, vajra-fence, mountain of fire, and the eight great charnel grounds, are roundels that contain twenty-six of the thirty-seven dakinis of the Vajravarahi mandala, with the other eleven dakinis appearing in the deity niches at the right of the bottom register. Thus in effect both the thirteen Jnanadakini-mandala deities and the thirty-seven Vajravarahi-mandala deities appear in this composition. The bottom left niche shows Dzongji Gyaltsen Zangpo, the 14th century patron of this mandala series, appears with his offering table in the next niche, and in the other five niches to the right are two-armed Mahakala, Jambhala, Raven-headed Mahakala, Four-armed Mahakala, and Remati (Paldan Lhamo). In the central niche of the top register is Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen (1312-1375), in whose honor these mandalas were commissioned, with Phagmodrupa and six other Lamas appearing to his right, and the Kagyu lineage of Vajradhara, Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa appearing to his left.

© text by Robert Beer

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PEM Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


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