Four Mandalas of Four Manifestations of Heruka, 19th century
Unknown (Central Tibet - 19th century)
opaque watercolour on cotton with separate brocaded silk mounting
85 x 63.5 cm
Gift of Max Tanenbaum, Toronto, 1980
National Gallery of Canada (no. 26869)
The"bodhisattva" Hevajra, a wrathful aspect of Akshobya (one of the Buddhas of Meditation), is at the centre of each mandala in four manifestations: with two, four, six and sixteen arms. In each he dances in mystical union with Nairâtmâ, his feminine counterpart, surrounded by eight goddesses, the result of this union. The inclusion, at the top, of Usnishavijaya, the goddess of Longevity, suggests that this thanka was probably painted as an aid to prolonging the life of the monk enthroned at the centre.