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Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal

Chakrasamvara Mandala
Nepal, Thakuri period, ca. 1100
Distemper on cloth
Image: 26 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. (67.3 x 50.2 cm);
Framed: 48 x 33 in. (121.9 x 83.8 cm)

Rogers Fund, 1995
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995.233

This ritual diagram (mandala) is conceived as the cosmic palace of the wrathful Chakrasamvara and his consort, Vajravarahi, seen at center. These deities embody the esoteric knowledge of the Yoga Tantras. Six goddesses on stylized lotus petals surround the divine couple. Framing the mandala are the eight great burial grounds of India, each presided over by a deity beneath a tree. The cemeteries are appropriate places for meditation on Chakrasamvara and are emblematic of the various realms of existence. The lower register contains five forms of the goddess Tara, a tantric adept at left, and two donors at right. This mandala is one of the earliest surviving large-scale paintings known from Nepal. Stylistic features relate it to Nepalese manuscript covers and to eastern Indian palm-leaf manuscript illustrations of the twelfth century.

Exhibition History
New York. Asia Society. "Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment," September 4, 1997–January 4, 1998.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure," April 5, 2003–July 27, 2003.

New York. Rubin Museum of Art. "Mandala," August 14, 2009–January 11, 2010.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Himalayas," December 15, 2010–December 4, 2011.

Atlanta. Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. "Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism," January 28, 2012–April 15, 2012.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal," December 16, 2017–December 16, 2018.