Offering Cosmos Mandala
- China or eastern Tibet
- 18th century
- Appliqué and embroidery on silk
- H. 32 3/4 x W. 21 1/2 in. (83.2 x 54.6 cm)
- The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 35.302
Mount Meru, also known as Sumeru, represents the structure of the cosmos. Mandalas of Mount Meru—whether in painted, sculpted, or, as in this example, embroidered form—are used by devotees of Tantric Buddhism to help them visualize this sacred space in meditation. The visualization involves traveling mentally from the lowest of hells (Avichi) to the final plane of the Realm of Formlessness (Arupyadhatu). On this mandala Mount Meru is surrounded by seven rings of mountains within a band that contains four islands located in the four cardinal directions and eight intermediate islands above the waves of the cosmic ocean. This skillfully rendered mandala was likely a gift from a grateful student to his guru.