Mandala of Chandra, God of the Moon

Period: early Malla period

Date: late 14th–early 15th century

Culture: Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)

Medium: Distemper on cloth

Dimensions: Overall: 16 x 14 1/4 in. (40.6 x 36.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Uzi Zucker, 1981

Accession Number: 1981.465


The center of this mandala depicts the moon god Chandra flanked by two female archers who shoot arrows of light to drive away the darkness. Chandra holds two lotuses and rides a chariot pulled by seven geese, an arrangement that parallels depictions of the sun god Surya, whose chariot is pulled by horses. Surrounding the central tableau are the nine planetary deities, which includes another depiction of Chandra. Across the top of the painting are the five directional buddhas (tathagatha) flanked by bodhisattvas at either end. The bottom register is divided into three panels that depict, from left to right, a ceremony, a group of musicians and dancers, and a group of patrons. Worship of the moon god Chandra was popular in Nepali Buddhism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, although it appears to have declined thereafter.