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Early Tibetan Mandalas


Mandala of Bhutadamara
'byung-po 'dul-byed-kyi dkyil-'khor

Central Tibet, 14th century
63.5 x 54 cm

Mandala of Bhutadamara

The four-armed Bhutadamara, "Turmoil of the Spirits," appears at the center of this mandala. Clad in a tiger skin, the three-eyed god holds the mighty pose known as alidha, with his left knee bent, the right held taut. He holds the thunderbolt sceptre in his upper right hand, the noose in his left; his central hands offer the gesture of trailokyavijaya, "conquest of the three worlds." These three worlds are generally described as the sky, earth, and ether; they are also referred to as the three realms (dhatu) of kama ("desire"), rupa ("form") and arupa ("formlessness").

Bhutadamara's mandala consists of four circles of Hindu gods and goddesses, as detailed in the twenty-third chapter of the NSP.1 In the first circle are Mahesvara (E), Visnu (S), Brahma (W), Karttikeya (N), Ganapati (NE), Aditya (SE), Rahu (SW) and Nandin (NW). The second circle includes: Sri (E), Tiolottama (S), Sasi (W), Uma (N), Ratnasri (SE), Sarasvati (SW), Surasundari (NW) and Vibhuti (NE). The third circle includes: Sakra (E), Yama (S), Varuna (W), Kubera (N), Agni (SE), Nairrti (SW), Vata (NW) and Candra (NE). In the outer circle are: Simhadhvajadharini (E), Vibhuti (S), Padmavati (W), Suraharini (N), Varaharini (NE), Ratnesvari (SE), Bhusana (SW) and Jagatpalini (NW).

Just outside the mandala proper are forms of Marici, Ekajata and other deities, most identified by inscription, although some are now abraded.

1 See Mallmann, Introduction a l'iconographie du tantrisme bouddhique, pp. 64-64.


Images and text Rossi and Rossi, London.

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