The Mandalas of the Two Realms


The Mandalas of the Two Realms

Paintings / Kamakura

Kamakura period, 14th century

Color on silk



A mandala is a pictorial representation of the worldview of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. At the center sits Dainichi Nyorai, or Mahavairocana in Sanskrit. This deity embodies the ultimate truth of the universe. A number of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are arranged around the center in a set order. The Mandalas of the Two Realms is a set of two mandalas. One,the Diamond World Mandala, is based on the Kongocho kyo, or the Vajrasekhara Sutra in Sanskrit. This is the core sutra of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. The other, the Womb World Mandala, is based on the Dainichi kyo, or the Mahavairocana Sutra. The Diamond World signifies the path to enlightenment,while the Womb World connotes the spread of compassion.

And just as the world has the sun and the moon, the Diamond World and Womb World Mandalas together represent one unified cosmos.

The two mandalas are hung facing each other on the eastern and western walls of a temple's main hall. By undertaking an esoteric Buddhist ceremony between these mandalas,disciples aim to achieve oneness with Buddha.

This work was painted during the Kamakura period. The meticulous depictions and beautiful coloring are certainly a sight to behold.

The Womb World Mandala and Diamond World Mandala underwent full restorations in the fiscal years of 2013 and 2014.

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