Tibetan Buddhist Astrological Diagram

Tibetan Buddhist Astrological Diagram

$266.25  $355   (25% off)
Item Code: TQ41
Specifications:
Tibetan Thangka Painting
Size of Painted Surface 17 inch X 24 inch
Size with Brocade 28 inch X 47 inch
This thangka depicts the Tibetan astrological diagram that Manjushri is said to have inscribed on the under shell of the tortoise.

In the inner circle are the Tibetan numerals one to nine arranged into a 'magic square', known as the nine mewas, with the number five at the center and the other eight numbers arranged around it so that their digits add up to fifteen – horizontally, vertically and diagonally. In the second circle are eight lotus petals, each containing one of the eight possible combinations of trigrams formed from the yin (broken) and yang (firm or continuous) lines which create the eight trigrams used in Chinese divination. These eight trigrams follow the 'King Wan' system or sequence as used in the Chinese divinatory Iching (Book of changes) with south at the top, west on the right, north at the bottom, and east on the left. Rotating from the top (south) clockwise these eight trigrams are – south – fire (li), southwest – earth (k'un), west – lake(tui), northwest – heaven (chi'ien), north – water (k'an), Northeast – mountain (ken), east – thunder (chen), and southeast – wind or wood (sun). This sequence gives the Chinese names and elements of the 'King Wen' arrangement. The third outer circle of the tortoise shell is divided into twelve segments, each containing one of the twelve animals of the 'twelve-year cycle', derived originally from the Chinese system of the twelve terrestrial branches – The Tibetan twelve – year cycle commences with the hare in the east (left). This is because the Tibetan began their cycle in 1027 A.D., with the establishment of the Kalachakra cycle; this was already three years into the containing Chinese cycle – which recommenced its sixty – year cycle in the year 1024 A.D. Moreover, whilst the Chinese favoured a north-south axial alignment, the Tibetans followed the traditional Indian model with an east-west axis of orientation.

The cycle of twelve animals is as followed – mouse, ox (cow), hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (goat), monkey, bird (cock), dog and pig (boar). The orientation of these twelve animals places two animals in each of the cardinal directions, with remaining four animals occupying the inter-cardinal directions, directions, with the remaining animals occupying the inter-cardinal directions. Outside the animal-lotus circle is fire fence.

The head, tail and four limbs of the tortoise emerge from the shell. His ferocious head is crowned with three half-vajras, and another half-vajra seals his tail. The central half-vajras at the top of his head and tail symbolize the central channel ascending through his body on the 'Brahma-line'. Two half vajras to the left and right on his head symbolize the lunar and solar channels; the two snake coiled around them represent the merging of these two channels with central channel. His limbs, pointing towards the inter-cardinal directions, take the form of human hands. In each hand is a wooden stake on which a frog is impaled, representing the 'four quarters' of the earth element. These four frogs are soil spirits of the earth. The small outlined squares in each of the four inter-cardinal directions also represent the square bases of the element earth. Above the head of the tortoise emerges a flame, representing the element fire in the south. Below his tail is a small triangular lake representing the element water in the north. To the left and right of his lower hands are drawn a tree and a flaming sword, representing the element of wood in the east, element of metal in the west, respectively.

The symbols of seven great planets and Rahu are representing in a vertical column below the lake at the tortoise's tail. From the top downwards they are – the disc of Sun, the crescent of the Moon; the eyes of Mars; the hand of Mercury; the dagger of Jupiter; the arrowhead of Venus; the fiber-bundle of Saturn; and raven's head of the eclipse planet Rahu.

At the top three great Bodhisattvas, Manjushri (center), Vajrapani (left), and Shadakshari Lokeshvara (Avalokiteshvara) (right) are depicted. In the upper left corner is the monogram of the ten-stacked syllables of the Kalachakra mantra. It symbolizes the great wheel of time. In the upper right corner the nine mewas are arranged in the same magic square sequence of numbers as appears in the center of the tortoise diagram. Short prayers are inscribed on each of the nine squares to protect against the possible occurrence of negative aspects of the mewas. At the bottom left and right are the two protective wheels of elemental astrology. On either side of the main tortoise diagram are two vertical stacks of protective talismans, depicting symbols of nagas, earth spirits, mountain spirits, gods and goddesses who influence all divisions of time. These are composed of protective seals and trigrams formed by the addition of one horizontal line to each of the eight trigrams of the king Wen dynasty. These create pictographs of each of the eight trigrams depicting the eight elements of fire, earth, lake, heaven, water, mountain, thunder and wood. The main function of the astrological diagram is to act as a very powerful emulate for protection for protection against all astrological and spirit afflictions.

Select Bibliography

L.A. Waddell, Buddhism and Lamaism of Tibet, 1895, London, 1979,Delhi (reprint)

Robert Beer, The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, Boston, 1999

This description is by Dr. Shailendra K. Verma, whose Doctorate thesis is on "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (From its inception to 8th century A.D.)".

Click Here to View the Thangka Painting along with its Brocade


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