རེའུ་མིག། བྲིས་ཐང་སྣ་ཚོགས།. Astrological Chart and Protective Talisman, Tibet. 1800s.
As both an instructional tool and auspicious talisman the stylized astrological chart brings good fortune to all those who see, display or possess it. The painting is a congregation of astrological, calendar and primary element symbols.
“Rebirth” is imbued with an atmosphere of growth in the spirit of the sixth bardo (or in between state) of becoming or transmigration. After death, this bardo endures until the inner-breath commences in the new life form determined by the “karmic seeds”, represented in paint by cacti seeds, within the storehouse consciousness. The imagery in this piece contains symbols pertinent to myself. Succulents are organisms which have long provided extreme fascination biologically in the way they grow and reproduce, Peyote cacti being particularly poignant in representing the states of rebirth which can occur during hallucinatory experiences. The rings circling the growth form symbolize an intense period of rebirth experienced during a personal Return of Saturn.
Tibetan buddhist chart indicating good and bad bloodletting days and when to guard against demons. At the center of the chart is a Sme Ba, 9 figures symbolising the elements in geomancy, surrounded by the Pa-Kua, 8 trigrams, surrounded by 12 animals representing months and years.
At the top center is Manjushri, holding an upraised sword in the right hand and a lotus stem to the heart with the left, the blossom supporting the Prajnaparamita book. Manjushri, the patron bodhisattva of astrology is seated on a lotus in vajra posture surrounded by a blue and orange nimbus. The central image is a yellow tortoise lying on the back with limbs extended holding staves with impaled corpses. At the center of the round belly is a circle of nine multi-coloured squares containing the 9 magic numbers (mewa gu). Surrounding that, on a dark blue wheel and brown background are the 8 triagrams, of Chinese origin. The outer circle of various colours represent the elements: wood, fire, iron, water and earth. Pictured within are the 12 animal figures of the 60 year cycle. Starting from the top green square on left and moving right are a hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog, boar, mouse, ox and tiger. The Tibetan system of astrology derives from two main sources, the early Manjushri system and the later Kalachakra Tantra system.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with students attending a course on Tibetan Medicine at the Tibetan Medical & Astrological Institute during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on August 18, 2014. (Photo by Tenzin Jamphel/OHHDL)