Manuscript of the Five Protections (Pancharaksha)

Manuscript of the Five Protections (Pancharaksha)

Thursday, August 2, 1117 (Year 39 of Ramapala, reign 1078/79–at least 1130)

Gum tempera, ink, and gold on 89 palm leaves

Overall: 5.7 x 54.6 cm (2 1/4 x 21 1/2 in.)

On Loan from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 16.2014


Text and Image in Southern Asia​ (Indian Painting and Himalayan rotation)

Did you know?

Seeing the painting of each goddess is as efficacious as reading the text.


This manuscript consists of five separate texts, each personified by the figure of a Spell Queen. The texts contain protective spells along with ritual instructions and stories about how the Buddha taught the spells to his followers.

The colors of the figures correspond to those of a tantric Buddhist mandala, or diagram of space. White indicates the center, followed by green, red, yellow, and blue for north, west, south, and east, implying that the protections extend to all directions.

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