Ekajati (Buddhist Deity)
(item no. 263)

Tibet

1800 - 1899

Nyingma Lineage

59.69x44.45cm (23.50x17.50in)

Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton

Collection of Rubin Museum of Art

(acc.# P1998.2.1)

 
Add to My Gallery


Take a closer look

Ekajati (Tibetan: ral chig ma. English: One Braid of Hair), the principal protectress and guardian of the 'Revealed Treasure' tradition of the Nyingma School.

Black in colour and fearsome in appearance she has one central eye and one long white tooth, sharp, biting down over the lower lip. Her yellow hair flows upward like flames, twisted into a single braid. The right arm is held upward with the hand in a wrathful gesture, the index finger pointed outward and emanating the form of a wolf, she brandishes a stick adorned with an impaled corpse. The left hand upraised to the mouth holds a dark red human heart that almost conceals her single downward hanging breast. Adorned with a tiara composed of five flower blossoms and three skulls, a scarf of smoke encircling the neck, the ears and limbs are decorated with earrings, bracelets, armlets and anklets while a flayed tiger skin is wrapped about the waist. Completely surrounded by smoke and flames, with the right leg raised in a dancing posture she stands with the left foot pressing down on a prone figure lying atop a lotus blossom seat above a triangular throne decorated with nine human skulls.

"Arising from the mandala of suffocating black wind at a kalpa's end,
Mistress of a host of activities and pristine awareness,
Leader of the Mamos, Great Queen of the World;
Homage to the Lord of Mantra, Ekajati!" (Nyingma liturgical verse).

Ekajati is a principal female protector in both the Nyingma (Old) and Sarma (New: Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug) Schools of Tibetan Buddhism. In the Nyingma School she is the chief protector for the 'Revealed Treasure' traditions and manifests in numerous forms, often appearing with only one eye and one tooth, sometimes with only one leg as in the red manifestation from the Longchen Nyintig tradition of Jigme Lingpa. The different forms and descriptions of Ekajati are found in the various 'Revealed Treasure' texts of the Nyingma School.

In the Sarma Schools she is the mother of Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo) and has a more typical appearance with one face, three eyes, and two breasts, always in a semi-wrathful visage and with one braid of hair (Sanskrit: eka, one; jati, braid [of hair]). She is found in the various Mahakala Tantra texts (anuttaryoga class) originating from India. Ekajati is also found in the lower kriya tantra texts and more commonly in association with the important figure of Tara where she is often seen as an attendant figure standing on the left while the goddess Brikuti stands on the right side.

Jeff Watt 3-2002


View other items in:
Thematic Set
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery VII
Painting Type: Black Ground
Buddhist Deity: Ekajati (One Braid) Main Page
Tradition: Nyingma, Enlightened Protectors
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened (Female)
Buddhist Deity: Ekajati (Nyingma)



Copyright © 2014 Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.
Photographed Image Copyright © 2004 Rubin Museum of Art