Medicine Buddha Mandala

18th century

Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art
New York, United States

STYLE: This painting combines Chinese-derived elements, such as the square mandala and the rocks to its sides, with Himalayan deities and symbolism in innovative ways. The mandala, actually a palace within a square-walled garden enclosure accessible through four Chinese-style gates, floats in the composition and is shown from a bird’s-eye view. Typical for art from the regions northeast of Tibet are the symbols of luck strung along the upper part of the mandala. The surrounding deities are set into a landscape with a low horizon, fantastic rocks, and high clouds of varying colors.

CONTENT: In this form of the Medicine Buddha mandala, a Prajnaparamita book is surrounded by the eight medicine buddhas. The deities in the squares around them consist of sixteen bodhisattvas, the guardians of the ten directions, and twelve yaksha generals, and the Four Great Kings guard the mandala palace doors. At the top of the painting an unidentified Gelukpa teacher is flanked by the deities Kutagara Vajrapani and Dorje Dudul, or “Vajra Demon Tamer,” who heads an assembly of four deities associated with health and wealth that is also depicted around the mandala. At the bottom of the painting the wealth deity Vasudeva is flanked by the protectors Palden Lhamo and Pehar.


  • Title: Medicine Buddha Mandala
  • Creator Lifespan: Unknown
  • Date: 18th century
  • Date Created: 18th century
  • Physical Dimensions: 29 x 19 1/2 in.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Rubin Museum of Art, C2006.31.3
  • Medium: Pigments on cloth
  • Place of Creation: Inner Mongolia
  • Exhibition History: Rubin Museum of Art, "The Art of Tibetan Medicine" (03/14/14 - 10/13/14), Rubin Museum of Art, "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection" (02/06/13 - 01/13/14)

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