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Circle (Mandala). Watercolour by a Tibetan painter.

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view Circle (Mandala). Watercolour by a Tibetan painter.


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Credit: Circle (Mandala). Watercolour by a Tibetan painter. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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About this work

Also known as

Ten stages of meditation


A maṇdala of Vajrapāṇi (Tibetan Phyag-na-rdo-rje). The compartments of the circle are left open. They indicate by the colours only to which deity they belong. A blue circle in the centre is surrounded by four leaves which are red, white, yellow and green, with four green leaves in between. Each colour corresponds to a syllable, a sphere of the universe, and a centre of force in the body, ten altogether. The analogy of external macrocosm (universe) and internal microcosm (body) connects each yoga exercise with a particular sphere, such as for instance the "sphere with form" and the "formless sphere". The four corners beyond that, apart from white ornamental patterns on a black background, show the colours of the ten powerful stages as used on the "rnam bcu dbaṅ ldan" used on a famous monogram in rañjanī script. In each of four directions on the top is the Wheel of Dharma flanked by two deer in memory of the Buddha preaching his doctrine for the first time in the deer park of Benares. There is also a makara on each side. The whole is surrounded by a ring of flowers round which there is a ring of lotus leaves. These are surrounded by a ring of vajiras and these are surrounded by a ring of green, red and blue compartments. The ten colours used are red, blue, white, orange, green, yellow, dark blue, maroon another white and black. But different copies and descriptions of the rNam bcu monogram use and mention different colours

Physical description

1 painting : watercolour on sized linen surrounded by blue damask backed by flowered cotton ; watercolour 71.6 x 72 cm

Publications note

Marianne Winder, Catalogue of Tibetan manuscripts and xylographs, and catalogue of thankas, banners and other paintings and drawings in the Library of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London 1989, p. 85, thankas banners and paintings no. 21 (Ten stages of meditation)


Wellcome Library no. 47075i


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