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Mandala of Chakrasamvara, dated 1648

Nepal: Kathmandu, 1648-1648
Opaque watercolor on cotton
43-1/2 x 33-1/2 in. (110.5 x 85.1 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon
M.2010.1.16.P
© 2012 Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on view

The mandala, a geometric design intended to symbolize the cosmos or a sacred place, is common to Buddhist, Hindu and Jain practices. In two-dimensional Buddhist mandalas, such as this example, the inner circle contains the deity, enclosed within a square palace that has openings or gateways facing the four cardinal directions. This mandala is dedicated to Chakrasamvara and his consort Vajravarahi, who appear in the center. Four concentric circles contain various gods and goddesses who protect the divine pair. Surrounding the palace are eight graveyards, separated by stylized waves representing rivers. These charnel grounds, each presided over by a divine couple, represent the cycle of life, in which pleasure is ephemeral and death is constant.


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