This scroll painting shows a Vajrayana Buddhist personification of time, Kalachakra: a figure with a dark blue torso and twenty-four arms, four faces, and two legs. Kalachakra embraces his consort Vishvamata. Together known as yab-yum (father-mother), the figures represent a union of compassion with wisdom—enlightenment. They each carry weapons, drums, and skulls to symbolize their liberation from suffering, and they are surrounded by nine masters studying and teaching toward enlightenment.
Below the yab-yum, an inscription reads, “In emptiness, in the form of emptiness, arises the glorious Kalachakra.” Buddhism teaches that all things alter in relation to each other. If nothing exists on its own, everything is empty: impermanent, evolving, transforming. If everything—you, this scroll, this campus—lacks permanence, and rather shifts through relative experiences, then we are all made of time.
landscapes; figures; deities; worship; decorative arts; decoration and ornament; religion
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