Artist/maker unknown, Japanese
At the center of this mandala, a representation of the Buddhist cosmos, the bodhisattva Kokūzō sits on a lotus-shaped throne and holds a lotus flower topped with flaming jewels. The disc encompassing Kokūzō is wreathed in clouds against the night sky. Two groups of deities form the outer rings of this mandala. The inner circle shows twenty-eight bodhisattvas, each paired with a constellation, representing the lunar mansions (J. Shuku, C. Xiu) that are central to East Asian astrology. The outermost ring depicts thirty-six guardian deities sitting with animals of the Chinese zodiac. This mandala may have been used in esoteric Buddhist rites to venerate celestial bodies, to ward off natural catastrophes, or to pray for worldly needs such as good health and harvests.