'Tsakali' are painted 'initiation cards' unique to the Tibetan tradition. Unlike 'thangkas', these icons are images in miniature which focus on one aspect or attribute of a deity. A set of cards forms a mandala of images and is employed in various ritual situations including the transmission of teachings, as aids for meditation, in funerary rites and as substitutes for ritual objects when they are difficult to obtain. The two 'tsakalis' illustrated here are most likely from the same set. Each card is rendered in flat, primary colours, with the image composed of simple shapes outlined with fluid black lines. They have both been consecrated with the mantra of the deity inscribed on the back.
The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.66.
17th century-18th century
gouache on cotton
10.5 x 9.2 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Marie-Francoise Fatton 2000
Not on display
Referenced in 3 publications
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.
The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 66 (colour illus.).
The art of Tibet, New York, 1969, 52. General reference; see page 52 for comparable piece.