Painted initiation cards known as tsakali are unique to Tibet. Usually rendered in sets, the cards form mandalas (sacred diagrams) and are used as meditation aids, in transmission of teachings, in funerary rites and substitutes for ritual objects when they are difficult to obtain.
This tsakali most likely belonged to three different sets. The offering goddesses proffer music, flowers, water, incense, fruit, cloth and other substances typically used in ritual. The birth of a Buddha heralds the onset of the seven treasures: queen, minister, general, wheel, jewel, elephant and horse. The treasures symbolise faith, morality, honesty, modesty, learning, renunciation and wisdom.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 2008
gouache on cotton
10.5 x 8.0 cm each painting
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Referenced in 3 publications
Ann Macarthur, Look, "Goddesses', pg. 39, Sydney, Dec 2005-Jan 2006, 39 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 39 shows (from left to right) parts q, l, e, and m of this work.
P. Pal., Tibet: Tradition and Change, 'Four Miniature Paintings', Albuquerque, 1998, 195, 277. General reference; see plates 97 a-d in article by P. Pal for comparable pieces.
Pratapaditya Pal, The art of Tibet, New York, 1969, 52. General reference; see page 52 for comparable piece.