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A Thangka of Four Mandalas of Hevajra
A Thangka of Four Mandalas of Hevajra


A Thangka of Four Mandalas of Hevajra
Tibet, 16th century
The red female deity Jnana Dakini seated at center with Abhayakara Gupta, dressed in the robes of a monk, surrounded by four mandalas, each with a form of Hevajra on a lotus blossom surrounded by deities and within palace walls, together representing the Tantric aspects of Body, Speech, Mind, and Essence, with charnel grounds in the four directions and intermediate directions each with their own Direction God of the Cemetery
Opaque pigments and gold on textile
20 x 18 in. (50.8 x 45.7 cm.)
Doris Wiener Gallery, New York, 1969
P. Pal, Tibet: Tradition and Change, 1997, p. 149, pl. 74
Himalayan Art Resources, www.himalayanart.org, item no. 59875
Tibet: Tradition and Change, The Albuquerque Museum, 18 October, 1997-18 January, 1998

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Lot Essay

In Himalayan Buddhism, the mandala is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional space, such as the celestial palace where a specific deity resides. They are comprised of concentric circles and squares occupied by the main deity at center and figures from his or her retinue arranged in order of importance in the interstitial spaces. Sometimes they include a landscape, and additional lineage figures above and below, as in the present example. All of these details contribute to the rich visual iconongraphy which rewards multiple viewings; with each perusal, the devotee begins with the main figures and then delves deeper into the details, which guide his or her mediation on the specific tantra depicted.

In the present painting, seated at center next to the red female deity Jnana Dakini and wearing monastic robes and a pandita hat is Abhayakaragupta, author of the Vajravali text upon which this painting is based. They are surrounded by the four principal mandalas of the Hevajra Tantra which, clockwise from upper right, depict Chitta Hevajra, Kaya Hevajra, Vak Hevajra, and Shri Hevajra Kapaladhara.

This painting has an inscription at the top stating that it is painting #2 in a set of Vajravali mandala paintings created to commemorate the death of the 11th Ngor Khenpo, head of the Ngor sub-school, Sanggye Sengge (1504-1569). At bottom is another dedicatory inscription indicating it was commissioned by the 13th Ngor Khenpo Drangti Namkha Palzang (1532-1602). Given the dates in these two inscriptons, this set of paintings should be dated to between 1569 and 1602 at the latest. There are two other paintings, also with these inscriptions, currently identified from this painting set. It is an excellent example of the Newari style from this period, and also in excellent condition.

Numbered Diagram
1. Jnana Dakini
2. Abhayakara Gupta
3. Hridaya Shir Hevajra (Essence)
4. Chitta Hevajra (Mind)
5. Vak Hevajra (Speech)
6. Kaya Hevajra (Body)
7. Rakshasa on a zombie (Southwest)
8. Varuna on a makara (West)
9. Vayu on a deer (Northwest)
10. Yaksha on a horse (North)
11. Ishana on a deer (Northeast)
12. Shakra on an elephant (East)
13. Agni on a goat (Southeast)
14. Yama on a buffalo (South)

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