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Paintings > Thangka > Mandala of the Great Buddha
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Mandala of the Great Buddha

Mandala of the Great Buddha

Mandala of the Great Buddha

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Black Meditational Tibetan Buddhist Thangka Painting - with 24 carat gold

17.0" x 20.0"
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Viewed 1966 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This mandala is perfectly balanced between the colors gold and silver, the coolness of silver soothing the heat of gold. Achieved completely in these two colors thrown against a black background, the final result is an awesome, dense image, pulsating with an eerie energy. The black color here reflects the ultimate reality, voidness, the Truth Body of enlightened beings. The special genre of black thangkas, these potent, highly mystical paintings portraying shimmering, brilliant forms appearing out of translucent darkness, came to full fruition in the second half of the 17th century in the central regions of Tibet.

Here the outermost circle of the mandala is composed of stylized flames flaring in the clockwise direction, made up alternately with gold and silver. This fire symbolizes the process of transformation which ordinary human beings have to undergo before entering the sacred territory within.

The next circle is made up of lotus petals, a symbol of purity and auspiciousness.

Finally there is a square structure housed concentrically inside these circles. Its perfect square shape indicates that the absolute space of wisdom is without aberration. This square structure has four elaborate gates. These four doors symbolize the bringing together of the four boundless thoughts namely - loving kindness, compassion, sympathy, and equanimity. Each of these gateways is adorned with bells, garlands and other decorative items. This square form defines the architecture of the mandala described as a four-sided palace or temple. A palace because it is the residence of the presiding deity of the mandala, a temple because it contains the essence of the Buddha.

Finally, at the center of the mandala lies the deity, with whom the mandala is identified. It is the power of this deity that the mandala is said to be invested with. Here the deity is the Great Buddha himself.

The right hand of Buddha is raised in the Abhaya mudra. Abhaya in Sanskrit means fearlessness. Thus this mudra symbolizes protection, peace, and the dispelling of fear.

Buddha's left hand rests in his lap in the dhyana mudra. An alms bowl symbolizing renunciation is held in the open palm of this hand. The Dhyana mudra is the mudra of meditation, of concentration on the Good Law, and of the attainment of spiritual perfection. According to tradition, this mudra derives from the one assumed by the Buddha when meditating under the pipal tree before his Enlightenment. This gesture was also adopted since time immemorial, by yogis during their meditation and concentration exercises. It indicates the perfect balance of thought, rest of the senses, and tranquillity.


Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A.F. Thurman. Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet: London, 1996.

Of Related Interest:

Book: Sacred Mandala of Buddhism

Tibetan Thangka Painting: Vishwavajra Mandala

Sterling Silver Pendant: Mandala Box Pendant with Filigree

Article: The Buddhist Mandala - Sacred Geometry and Art

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