1. Ignorance – An elderly blind person with a cane indicating ignorance to the truth of self.
2. Formations – A potter shaping a vase on a wheel indicating the three forms of action and the imprints of karma from past lives and the imprints current actions will leave on future lives. The potters wheel just keeps spinning after a single push like the wheel of samsara. As long as there is ignorance there is formation of karma leading to rebirth again and again.
3. Consciousness – A monkey swinging from a tree indicating the monkey-like nature of our untrained mind. The consciousness is what propels us to the next life based on the formations we have created in the previous life, thus linking the two lives with the same consciousness.
4. Name and form – A person (or people) on a boat indicating the 5 skandhas (form, sensation, perception, formation and consciousness). Our sense of self requires a body (form) and a psyche (sensation, perception, formation and consciousness) which are developed in the womb.
5. Six sense organs – A house with five windows and a door indicating the six senses we use to interpret the world. The house is empty because the forming embryo is developing but not yet fully functioning senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, texture and mental objects.
6. Contact – A couple embracing indicating the coming together of objects, senses and consciousness.
7. Sensation – A person with an arrow in their eye indicating the arrival of sensation: pleasure, pain and neutral.
8. Craving – A woman offering a drink to a man indicating the desire for or attachment to pleasure and the aversion to pain.
9. Grasping – A man plucking fruit from a tree indicating the increase in craving for pleasure which leads to grasping and the desire to never be separated from pleasure and to avoid pain.
10. Becoming – A beautiful bride (sometimes depicted as a couple making love or a pregnant woman) indicating the actions of body speech and mind out of of desire and attachment that create the karma that will determine the next existence.
11. Birth – A woman giving birth indicating the rebirth in a particular place based on the conditions and karma of the previous links.
12. Old age and death – Bearers with a corpse indicating the continual process of aging as the aggregates change and develop until eventually the aggregates finally cease