I have a little web based widget that tells me the historical importance of each day. This is what it told me today:
Mar 31, 1959: The Dalai Lama, fleeing Chinese repression of an uprising in Tibet, arrived at the Indian border and was granted political asylum.
The timing of this tidbit to the current crackdown of demonstrators in Tibet was jarring. It also makes one think about the fact that The Dalai Lama (almost half a century later) is still in a process of fleeing those same models of repression.
About the painting (From a handout I got from a Sothebys booklet):
The mandala would most probably have been painted as one of a series depicting the cycle of Guhyasamaja, described as the King of Tantras, one of the earliest Buddhist tantras to have emerged from India, and one that is widely practised throughout the various Tibetan religious orders. The lineage depicted in the upper register confirms that the mandala was painted for the Sakya order, and the composition compares closely with paintings commissioned at the Ngor Monastery in the fifteenth century, and known to have been painted by Newar artists, a fifteenth century Tibetan mandala depicting Hevajra Kapaladhara.
The palace surrounded by circles of lotus petals and multi-colored flames set on a brilliant red scrollwork field strewn with auspicious emblems and with lamas and deities within roundels, with Manjushri accompanying Sakya lineage teachers in a gallery above with multi-armed deities and dharmapala in the lower register, the palace set on a dark scrollwork field, with vajra gates in the four directions, and with the six-armed and three-headed saffron-colored Manjuvajra at center seated in union with his four-armed prajna, surrounded by manifestations within the yellow, red, green and white scrollwork quadrants.