Home : : Chandra Mandala

  • Newari religion painting
  • painted Style: 14 century
Materials: Real Natural Mineral Pigments, 24K Gold Paint Embellishment, Cotton Canvas

The moon god Chandra is majestically seated on his chariot drawn by seven geese. Bedecked in jewels befitting his status and depicted with a slight smile, the deity holds a pair of lotus stems with both hands, which curl around both arms to open in blosoms at either side of the head. In front of Chandra is seated his charioteer Ambara, while his consort Kanti and Shova flank him. This scene is set within a multi-coloured circuler frame at the centre of an eight–pointed mandala. The white scrolled detail of this octahedron contrasts strongly with the deep blue and red backgrounds of the rest of the mandala.Immediately surrounding the central scene are a stupa and fifteen similar forms of Chandra. The latter represent the kalas, or aspects of the waxing and waning of the moon. Those on the white ground represent the waxing moon, while the ones against the dark blue background represent the waning moon. The first register beyond this depicts the nakshatras (twenty-eight stars) and are supposed in this instance to represent the wives of moon. The next register is devided into eight sections separated by palm trees. Each section stands for a directional point with the Dikpala associated with that direction standing at centre flanked by various figures including naagrajas and other semi-devine beings. From the bottom of the cirle the Dikpalas are (from clockwise) Indra (on a elephant), Agni (on a goat), Yama (on a buffalo), Nirmitti ( on a corpse), Varuna (on a makara), Vayu (on deer), Kubera (on a horse) and Ishana (on a cow). The four corners outside the flaming rim of the mandala each have a vase from which issues scrolling vines that sprout orbs containing the eight Auspicious Symbols (parasol, pair of golden fish, conch, banner, endless knot, vase, lotus, chakra) and Buddhist figures incliding the Buddha Sakymuni, Shadaksharilokeshvara, possibly Prajnaparamita and Mahakarunalokeshvara flanked by bodhisattvas.The uppermost, horizontal register of the painting depicts the Seven Buddhas of the past flanked by a white manjushri holding a sword and, at the other end, by a possible repressntation of Padmapani. The horizontal register at the bottom has in its central panel the Pancharakchas with the Treasures of the Chakravartin interspersed between them. The vajracharya giving oblation to the fire is in the panel to the left and the donors are depicted in the panel to the right.
Paintings with representations of the moon god were very popular throughout the fifteen and sixteenth centuries. It is unknown why interest waned after this period. Chandra was expected to exercise profound influence on human destiny. Therefore these paintings were commissioned for important events in one’s life, and many examples have survived to the present. It is noteworthy that while Chandra was revered by both the Hindu and Buddhist community, most surviving icons are Buddhist in context.

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