Carpets and Textiles in the Service of Religion

Textile with Inscription
Tibet, Probably 18th Century
Cotton, silk
55.8 x 92.7 cm (22 x 36 1/2 in)
Mark Shilen

This fragmentary cloth has lines of Sanskrit text written in Tibetan script, beautifully woven in yellow silk on a blue silk background. The presence of Chinese characters above each text block reveals that it was created in China. In the large text blocks, mantras of the type “Om vajra…hum phat” are woven, with variations in what is added to the “vajra.” These are invocations to a wrathful but protective deity; in the small text blocks the deity is asked to perform destructive activities such as “cook! cook! smash! smash!”