Wheel of Life: Blue Thangka Painting
Wheel of Life: Blue Thangka Painting
This hand painted blue thangka depicts the Wheel of Life. The Wheel of Life or Bhavachakra is one of the most fascinating subjects of the Buddhist Thangka paintings. It is rich in symbolism, and captures the key aspects of the Buddha's teaching, including rebirth, Karma and dependent origination.
The Wheel of Life thangkas generally show the six realms of existence into which a being is continually reborn unless they attain Nirvana. At the center of the painting lies the intertwined images of a pig, a rooster, and a snake that symbolically depict the ignorance, greed, and aggression that characterize the world of suffering and dissatisfaction (samsara). Surrounding the central sphere are beings on the path of spiritual evolution. The 3 lower segments of the circle depict the less fortunate levels of existence; the animals, ghost realms, and the Hell realms. The 3 upper segments depict the more fortunate realms of humans, gods, and demi-gods. The wheel of deluded existence is held by Mara (the God of death), pictured here as a sharp-taloned, fanged demon.
In a modern, technologically advanced age, these thangkas continue to have relevance as a venerated art form and also as religious aids of profound iconic value.