Interpreting of Wheel of Life
The wheel of life is a symbolic representation of cyclic existence found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region. This pictorial thangka presents basic Buddhist concepts such as karma and rebirth in a manner that can be understood by uneducated or illiterate people.
Table of Contents
The Viability of the wheel of life
In this segment, we will learn about the viability of the wheel of life. After that Short etymological description of the word Wheel of life itself.
Etymology of the wheel of life
Earlier, we learn about the Viability of the Wheel of life. Now we are going to learn about the iconography of the Wheel of Life.
Iconography of the Wheel of Life
Posture of the wheel of life
Wheel of Life is held in the tight grasp of Samsara personified seen as a fierce wrathful figure who is red in color with one face and two hands.
The circular disc is pressed up against the mouth ready to be swallowed at any moment the immediacy of impermanence.
Earlier, we learn about the Viability of the Wheel of life, and iconography of the Wheel of Life. Now we are going to learn about depicting the Wheel of life.
Depicting Wheel of Life Thangka
The thangka of the wheel of life is from Mongolia. It is made in between 1800 AD to 1899 AD. The wheel of life is from Buddhist lineage. The base of the painting is cotton, ground mineral pigment, fine gold line are used to make the painting. Currently, this painting is in the Rubin Museum of Art.
By depicting this thangka, we will learn about first, second, third, and fourth bonds.
The innermost of the 4 concentric bounds shows a black pig who is the sign of ignorance, a green snake who is the sign of anger, and a rooster which means the sign of desire circling on a blue background.
They are often shown biting on each other’s tail.
The next circle is the second one which is made of a white half and a black half shows. Those individuals that have performed meritorious actions moving upwards in the circle of existence.
And those individuals who have performed bad actions moving downward, naked, led by red and green attendants of the Lord of Death.
At the top of the bound, there is the Realm of the Gods highlighted by a heavenly being, the god Shakra, in a palace playing a stringed instrument.
To the right of the bound, there is the Asura Realm who is called a lower form of the gods that are always engaged in conflict.
To the left of the bound, there is the Human Realm and below that is the Animal Realm.
To the lower right f the bound, there is the Realm of ghosts. At the bottom of the bound, there is the Hell Realm with a central blue figure who is wrathful and holding a stick in the right hand and a mirror on the left.
This form of Yama is not the same entity as the Buddhist Tantric protector Yama Dharmaraja. Yama in the hell realm holds a mirror to reflect those actions performed by each individual that comes before him.
The outer circle is composed of 12 scenes that represent the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising starting at the bottom left with three blind figures and then moving clockwise around the Wheel of Existence to meet again at the bottom right where two figures carry bundled corpses to the funeral pyre.
His association with the Hell Realms is in the capacity of a judge of karma, good and bad deeds. This model of Buddhist cosmology the environment and inhabitants is based on the Abhidharma literature of the Theravada and Sutrayana vehicles.
Earlier, we learn about the Viability of the Wheel of life, the iconography of the Wheel of Life, depicting the Wheel of life. Now we are going to learn about the presentation of Wheel of Life with Shakyamuni Buddha.
Wheel of Life with Shakyamuni Buddha Thangka
This thangka is from Eastern Tibet. Wheel of Life with Sakyamuni Buddha was painted around 1700-1799 AD. The size of this painting is 60.33×42.24cm. The base of the painting is cotton and the ground mineral pigment and fine gold is used to color it. Wheel of life belongs to Uncertain Lineage. This Masterpiece Thangka Art is still preserved and kept in the Rubin Museum of Art.
By depicting this thangka we will learn the representation of Wheel of life.
The large red figure of a personified Samsara who is wrathful with one face and two hands.
Earlier, we learn about the Viability of the Wheel of life, the iconography of the Wheel of Life, depicting the Wheel of life. Finally, we are going to learn about the presentation of Wheel of Life with Shakyamuni Buddha.