Cosmic Mandala

Tibetan Zodiac and Lunar Houses

Cosmic Mandala



Tibetan astro-science recognizes the twelve classical zodiacal constellations or lagna, with most representing similar animals and figures to the Greco-roman zodiac. Three interesting exceptions are Cancer, which is seen as a frog, Leo, which is a mythological snow lion, and Capricornus, which is a dragon-headed fish. The twelve signs are as follows:

Lug - sheep

gLang - bull

Kh'rig - couple

Karta - frog

Sengge - snow lion

Bhumo - girl

Srang - balance

sThig - scorpion

gShu - bow and arrow

Chusrin - dragon-headed fish

Bhumpa - water-bearer

Nya - fish


More important than the constellations of the zodiac are the lunar houses or mansions, which are calculated by the stars seen rising before the sun at different dates within the lunar month. The Tibetan system differs from the Indian system in normally having 27 constellations rather than 28, and from the Chinese system in having the constellations be relative to the ecliptic rather than the celestial equator. This is due to the importance placed on the north celestial pole as the seat of the emperor in Chinese astronomy. When 28 houses are used, one of the 27 is divided into two. The twelve "signs" are used for horoscopes, while the lunar houses are used in calculating the calendar. Each lunar mansion is divided into four pieces called a step. Nine steps make up one sign of the zodiac.


The Sanskrit names of the 27 houses are found in primary text Ornament of Stainless Light. The below list with both Tibetan and Sanskrit names is adapted from that source and (with minimal astronomical corrections)

Twenty-Seven Lunar Constellations (rgyu skar nyer bdun)
1. tha skar (Ashvini) Beta Arietis (Scheratan)
2. bra nye (Bharani) 35 Arietis
3. smin drug (Krittika) Pleiades
4. snar ma (Rohini) Aldebaran
5. mgo (Mrgashira) Lambda Orionis
6. lag (Ardra) Alpha Orionis (Betelgeuse)
7. nab so (Punarvasu) Beta Geminorum (Pollux)
8. rgyal (Pushya) 5 Cancri
9. skag (Ashlesha) Alpha Hydrae (Alphard)
10. mchu (Magha) Alpha Leonis (Regulus)
11. bre (Purva-Phalguni) Delta Leonis (Zosma)
12. dbo (Uttara-Phalguni) Beta Leonis (Denebola)
13. me zhi (Hasta) Delta Corvi
14. nag pa (Chitra) Alpha Virginis (Spica)
15. sa ri (Svati) Alpha Bootis (Arcturus)
16. sa ga (Vishakha) Alpha Librae
17. lha tsham (Anuradha) Delta Scorpii  
18. snron (Jyeshtha) Alpha Scorpii (Antares)
19. snrub (Mula) Lambda Scorpii (Schaula)
20. chu stod (Purvashadha) Delta Sagittarii
21. chu smad (Uttarashadha) Sigma Sagittarii
22. gro bzhin (Uttara-Ashadha) Alpha Aquilae (Altair)
23. mon gre (Dhaniastha) Beta Delphini (or Lambda Aquarii)
24. mon gru (Satabhishak) Lambda Aquarii (or Beta Delphini)
25. 'khrum stod (Purvabhadrapada) Alpha Pegasi (or the Great Square)
26. 'khrum smad (Uttarabhadrapada) Gamma Pegasi/Alpha Andromedae (or the Great Square)
27. nam gru (Revati) Zeta Piscium



Astro Department (1995) Tibetan Astronomy and Astrology - a Brief Introduction. Dharamsala, India: Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute.

Gyatso, Khendrup Norsang (2004) Ornament of Stainless Light: An Exposition of the Kalachakra Tantra. Boston: Wisdom Publications.

Tibeto-Mongolian Astrology and Karma

Tibetan Astro Sciences

Tibetan astrology terms