Tibetan official reading a Buddhist word diagram

Tibet in the 1930s: Theos Bernard's Legacy at UC Berkeley

Tibetan official reading a Buddhist word diagram

Typically, more “worldly” concerns are addressed in the art just outside the doors to a temple. In this photograph, an aristocrat, probably an official, reads a kun bzang 'khor lo (Tibetan poetry in a diagrammatic format resembling a crossword puzzle) mounted on a wall in front of him. On top of the poem is the emblem of the three great bodhisattvas, which features a blazing sword on a text that sits at the center of a circle of lotuses. The sword is flanked on the right side by a green two-headed parrot and, on the left, an orange and pink two-headed duck. These three symbols represent Manjushri, Avalokitesvara, and Vajrapani, who respectively transmute ignorance, desire, and anger.