Durgatiparisodhana from the Vajradhatu Mandala Series
Artist/maker unknown, Mongolian
In Tibetan-Buddhist art a mandala often represents a divine palace, usually shown as an abstracted square building with four gates inside a circle. But a mandala also signifies a circle of friends or a sphere of influence. This painting was originally part of a series that elaborated the Vajradhatu (Diamond Realm) Mandala. Such series of mandala paintings can be understood as a chain of palaces in a specific, though abstract, place (here the Diamond Realm). The deities who inhabit the mandala-palaces are related to each other in a formalized family tree. This painting's Mongolian origin is indicated by its pastel colors, low rolling hills (rather than Tibet's snowy peaks), the presence of Green and White Taras, and the distinct tiger face on the general's shield in the lower right.