This work is a three-dimensional mandala, or cosmic diagram, of Hevajra, who is the chief deity of the Tantric (Vajrayana) Buddhist path to enlightenment. Unlike Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, the Tantric school believed that, with serious application and the guidance of a religious teacher, an initiate could achieve enlightenment in this life. The main exercise was meditation. While meditating, the practitioner focused all his mental energy on a deity, in this case Hevajra, thereby transferring to himself the characteristics of the deity. The cult of Hevajra flourished in Cambodia between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. Here Hevajra stands in the centre on an eight-petalled lotus surrounded by dakhinis, minor female divinities in Tantric Buddhism, and one unidentified other figure.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, May 2011
Place where the work was made
late 12th century
39.0 x 23.5 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Goldie Sternberg Southeast Asian Art Purchase Fund 2001
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
The connoisseur and the philanthropist: 30 years of the Sternberg Collection of Chinese Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 Jan 2014–27 Apr 2014
Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–13 Mar 2016