SOLD – Framed Tibetan Thangka Painting – The Wheel of Life (deep purple, blue, gold) 735mm x 608mm


Original hand painted Thangka created by Tibetan refugees. Naggar Valley donates 10% of all profits generated from sales of Thangka paintings to Lha charity in McLeod Ganj, India. For more information regarding the wonderful work that Lha do please visit our About Lha Charity page.

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SKU: TKA150011 Category:


This is a large and extremely intricate hand painted Tibetan Thangka.

It is painted on cotton canvas with deep purple, blue and gold, image size – 500mm x 380mm. Total size with frame – 735mm x 608mm.

This striking painting is presented in a bespoke dark wooden frame. The distressed finish adds an aged feel which compliments the art work perfectly.


The Tibetan Wheel of Life symbolises the Buddhist perspective on life and contains within it numerous symbols of Buddhist themes and teachings.

The creature who turns the wheel of life and holds it in his clutches is Yama, a wrathful deity and the Lord of Death. Yama symbolises the inevitability of death, samsara and the impermanence of all things. This does not lead to hopelessness, though, because outside of the wheel stands the Buddha, who points the way to liberation (symbolised by the moon).

The inner circle of the wheel contains symbols of the three root delusions: hatred (snake), ignorance (rooster), and greed (pig).

The ring around the centre represents karma, with the figures on the left ascending to higher realms of existence because of virtuous actions, and the figures on the right descending to lower realms of existence because of evil or ignorant actions.

The middle ring of the wheel (the areas between the spokes) symbolises the six realms of existence. The top half, from left to right, portrays the three higher realms of existence: humans, gods, and demi-gods. The lower half shows the three lower realms of existence: animals, hell-beings, and hungry ghosts.

The outer ring represents the 12 links of dependent origination, as follows:

  1. Just to the right of the top is a blind man with a cane, representing ignorance of the true nature of the world.
  2. Moving clockwise, a potter moulding a pot symbolises that we shape our own destiny with our actions through the workings of karma.
  3. The monkey climbing a tree represents consciousness or the mind, which wanders aimlessly and out of control.
  4. Consciousness gives rise to name and form, which is symbolised by people travelling in a boat on the river of life.
  5. The next link is an empty house, the doors and windows of which symbolise the developing sense organs. Buddha noted six senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch and thought.
  6. The six senses allow us to have contact with the world, which is symbolised by lovers embracing.
  7. From contact arises feelings, which we categorize as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Feelings are represented on the wheel as an arrow piercing the eye.
  8. From feelings arises desire or attachment to pleasant feelings and experiences, symbolised by a couple falling in love or a man drinking alcohol.
  9. Desire or attachment leads to grasping for an object of desire, symbolised by a monkey picking fruit.
  10. From grasping arises existence, represented by a man and a woman making love.
  11. Existence culminates in birth (entry into the human realm), which is symbolised by a woman in childbirth.
  12. Birth naturally leads to ageing and death, which is symbolised by an old man carrying a burden.

The breakdown above describes a traditional design for the Wheel of Life. All Thangka paintings are unique and an artist may choose to portray certain aspects or symbols using a slightly different design. The theme and meaning behind the painting however remains the same.


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