Requires Photography

Mandala With Tantric Deities, perhaps the mandala of Samvara

17th–18th century?


67 x 44 cm (26 3/8 x 17 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Distemper and gold on cotton

Not On View





Painting in hanging scroll (thangka) format, but without original decorative borders (does have two wooden rods for hanging).

At the center of a mandala, a 12-armed blue ferocious deity stands in yab-yum with a red shakti. The central circle is surrounded by a ring containing four deities, corresponding in color to four outer quadrants – red, green, blue (white quadrant), and gold – that divide the surrounding square diagonally. Between the architectural “entrances” to these quadrants is a repeated series of objects emerging from pots, perhaps representing offerings. The outer rim of the mandala contains a narrow band of hell scenes. Above the mandala, in swirling clouds, is a blue terrifying deity at the center raising a vajra in his right hand. He is flanked by mahasiddhas, the one on the left with a red string in his mouth, the one on the right holding an arrow. Below them are two Lamas, the one on the left wearing a brimmed yellow hat and holding a dish of fruit, the one on the right bareheaded and showing the dharmachakra mudra. Below the mandala, three blue-skinned wrathful deities appear engulfed in dark flames. At left, six-armed Mahakala stands on an elephant. At center, a 4-armed deity with small second head holds a sword and staff and stands on a corpse. At right, Palden Lhamo sits on a mule, holding a staff and a scull cup.


1919, Denman Waldo Ross, Cambridge, MA; 1919, gift of Ross to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 10, 1919)

Credit Line

Denman Waldo Ross Collection