This is a mandala spirit cloth from Burma.
These were commissioned by families of means and used for meditation at home. They are believed to have healing and protective power and to bring good luck to the owner. Their power could be enhanced by being folded and worn on the shoulder of a monk under robes. Creating them was time intensive as each section is worked on days considered to be auspicious. A complete piece could take several months to finish. First, the Buddha image was painted at the center along with the circles around the piece. Other figures are added on auspicious dates.
The mandala itself symbolizes the Wheel of Law and the endless cycle of rebirth. Buddha at the center is a representation of moral discipline. The circles of monks, spirit guardians all show obedience to Buddha. The rings dividing circles represent spokes of wisdom. Rotating around the mandala are monk followers, cosmic forces, mythical humans, animals and protective spirits. There are also charts and incantations.
While the size of this piece is remarkably large, the size of each element remains comparable to that found in other Mandalas. Therefore we see a much higher number of sub-elements populating this artwork.
Further, this work is extremely complex - it appears that the large size was necessitated by the amount of data that needed to be included in the work.
Late 1800s - early 1900s
69 x 56 inches
Pieces such as this one will be very hard to find again!