Mandala designs are a common form of thangka painting, and square paintings are usually reserved for mandalas while other forms are rectangular. Many mandalas represent or are based on the Kalacakra Mandala. This represents by five circles, the five element discs which form a foundation of the universe: space, air, fire, water and earth (from outside in). The three square blocks arranged “on top” (inside in the 2D depiction) represent the different levels of the mandala palace that stands on Mount Meru – while the mountain itself, not depicted, is situated between the earth element and the palace. Around the edge of the palace can be seen gateways and gate superstructures, and wall decorations such as pearl garlands, gems and flags and banners. The levels of the palace represent (from bottom to top / outside to inside) body, speech and mind, with the mind level divided into a further three levels of “deep awareness”, “deep bliss” and the apex of the palace. The palace corresponds in dimensions and a number of correlations both to the universe, and to the body, and is traditionally used as a meditation aid.
The mandalas also commonly depict some or all of the 8 auspicious signs: (1) A white parasol (2) A pair of golden fishes (3) A treasure vase (4) A lotus (5) A right-spiralling white conch shell (6) An endless knot or “lucky diagram” (7) A victorious banner (8) A golden wheel. In Tibetan art these eight symbols are depicted individually, in pairs, in fours, or as a complete group of 8.
In the centre is often found the symbol for “Om” / “Aum”, in its Hindi or Tibetan form. A few have the mantra “Om ah Hum” which is a mantra of blessing.
Also common in the centre is the vajra or crossed vajra. The Buddhist vajra symbolizes the impenetrable, imperishable, immovable, immutable, indivisible and indestructible state of absolute reality, which is the enlightenment of Buddhahood. In Vedic India the vajra was originally the “thunderbolt” of the great sky god Indra. The crossed or “universal” vajra is formed from four lotus-mounted vajra-heads that emanate from a central hub towards the four cardinal directions, and symbolizes the principle of absolute stability.
Size: The painting within the mounting is approx. 18-19cm, while the mounting is approx. 53cm x 44cm.