What is probably the earliest known Tibetan māndala and a masterpiece of Mongolian art are among the major Asian works of art to be exhibited by Rossi & Rossi
at TEFAF Maastricht at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) from 14 to 23 March 2014, Stand 166. Rossi & Rossi specialise in both Indian and Himalayan art, focusing particularly on classical and contemporary Tibetan art.
The 11th century Vajradhatu māndala is not only a very rare and early example from Tibet but is also of monumental size, measuring 125 x 125 cm. Offered for sale for $2.2 million, it has been in a private European collection since the 1980s, was exhibited in 2003 and 2004 in Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure at The Art Institute of Chicago and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington , D.C. , and has been extensively published. A māndala, literally a circle, is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the Universe and is used as an aid to meditation and a teaching tool.
This important and complex example represents the Adamantine Sphere (Vajradhatu) in which the cosmic Buddhas were arranged by Indian tantric schools. The essential feature is a central palace with ornaments and symbols, occupied by a Lord with his circle and protected by a belt of vajras (thunderbolts) and a fire ditch which also protects the abodes of the three main cosmic Buddhas. Each Buddha, except the central one, is surrounded by four of the Sixteen Vajra Bodhisattvas. The corners of the inner palace are occupied by four goddesses, between the walls of the inner and outer palaces there are four groups of four more, and four guardians occupy the outside doors. Five men involved in the ritual of consecration of the painting, an officiating lama and four donors, are portrayed in the bottom left corner outside the external ditch of flames. This māndala represents possibly the earliest extant painted rendition of Buddhist symbolism and Indian conceptions and aesthetics laid down in the Sanskrit texts translated into Tibetan in the 8th-9th and 11th-14th centuries.