In this installment of Artatomical, we turn to the pages of "Mirror of Beryl," a 17th-century commentary on "The Four Tantras," the foundational text of Tibetan medicine. The commentary was prepared by Sangye Gyamtso (1653 1705), regent of Tibet, as an attempt to codify Tibetan medical science.
The word tantra means "linage," and as discussed on A Buddhist Library, the four tantras in question break down as follows:
Tibetan medicine or Sowa Rigpa is an expectantly complex and esoteric discipline, drawing on ancient Greek, Ayurvedic and Chinese medical traditions. ShangShung.org provides an excellent overview, but suffice to say that the philosophy of Tibetan medicine leans heavily on the Buddhist mind/body connection and uses pulse diagnosis and urine analysis to determine mental and physical imbalances.
When it comes to treatment, practitioners turn to Tibetan massage (Kunye), moxabustion, blood-letting and medicines produced from native Himalayan plants. The Swiss-produced herbal supplement PADMA 28 stems from this pharmacopoeia.
But back to these medical Thangka. I love Tibetan aesthetic, particularly its psychonautical and necromantic elements, so these visions of internal, semi-mystical systems and grinning skulls are right up my alley.
Let's explore one more example. I believe this one relates to the Explanatory Tantra, which deals with the anatomy and physiology of our body from the cradle to the grave. Be sure to click on the image and explore all the details in a super-large version of the file: