Tibetan Buddhist Astrological Diagram

Item Code: TQ41
Tibetan Thangka Painting
Dimensions Size of Painted Surface 17 inch X 24 inch
Size with Brocade 28 inch X 47 inch
Free delivery
Free delivery
Fully insured
Fully insured
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
Fair trade
Fair trade
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

Free Shipping. Delivered by to all international destinations within 3 to 5 days, fully insured.

How are Thangkas made?

A Thangka is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist painting that usually depicts a Buddhist Deity (Buddha or Bodhisattva), a scene, or a mandala. These paintings are considered important paraphernalia in Buddhist rituals. They are used to teach the life of the Buddha, various lamas, and Bodhisattvas to the monastic students, and are also useful in visualizing the deity while meditating. One of the most important subjects of thangkas is the Bhavacakra (the wheel of life) which depicts the Art of Enlightenment. It is believed that Thangka paintings were developed over the centuries from the murals, of which only a few can be seen in the Ajanta caves in India and the Mogao caves in Gansu Province, Tibet.

Thangkas are painted on cotton or silk applique and are usually small in size. The artist of these paintings is highly trained and has a proper understanding of Buddhist philosophy, knowledge, and background to create a realistic and bona fide painting.
The process of making a thangka begins with stitching a loosely woven cotton fabric onto a wooden frame. Traditionally, the canvas was prepared by coating it with gesso, chalk, and base pigment. Image
After this, the outline of the form of the deity is sketched with a pencil or charcoal onto the canvas using iconographic grids. The drawing process is followed in accordance with strict guidelines laid out in Buddhist scriptures. The systematic grid helps the artist to make a geometrical and professional painting. When the drawing of the figures is finalized and adjusted, it is then outlined with black ink. Image
Earlier, a special paint of different colors was made by mixing powdered forms of organic (vegetable) and mineral pigments in a water-soluble adhesive. Nowadays, artists use acrylic paints instead. The colors are now applied to the sketch using the wet and dry brush techniques. One of the characteristic features of a thangka is the use of vibrant colors such as red, blue, black, green, yellow, etc. Image
In the final step, pure gold is coated over some parts of the thangka to increase its beauty. Due to this beautification, thangkas are much more expensive and also stand out from other ordinary paintings. Image
Thangka paintings are generally kept unrolled when not on display on the wall. They also come with a frame, a silken cover in front, and a textile backing to protect the painting from getting damaged. Because Thangkas are delicate in nature, they are recommended to be kept in places with no excess moisture and where there is not much exposure to sunlight. This makes them last a long time without their colors fading away. Painting a thangka is an elaborate and complex process and requires excellent skills. A skilled artist can take up to 6 months to complete a detailed thangka painting. In earlier times, thangka painters were lamas that spent many years on Buddhist studies before they painted.
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy