Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Chaturbhuja (Four-hands)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 113)
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.16.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Summary: This form of Mahakala can be either a protector deity (dharmapala) or a meditational deity (ishtadevata).

Interpretation / Description

Chaturbhuja Vajra Nata Mahakala (Tibetan: gon po chag shi pa, dor je nag po chen po. English: The Great Black Vajra Lord with Four Hands) embracing the consort.

Learn how to read this painting: Analysis | Interpretation | Identification

Sanskrit: Chaturbhuja Tibetan: Chag shi pa

At the top center is the primordial Buddha Vajradhara, to the left mahasiddha Tilopa and Naropa on the right. At the center below is the tutelary deity Heruka Chakrasamvara with Shabdrung Ngagwang Namgyal on the left and Lord Jamgon on the right. At the middle right is Shri Devi (Tib.: pal den lha mo) and on the left Raven-Headed Mahakala (Tib.: gon po cha rog dong chen). At the lower center is the Direction King of the North Vaishravana with the mountain goddess Tseringma on the left and Yudronma on the right. Along the bottom are four worldly protectors indigenous to Bhutan.

List of Figures According to the Hierarchy of the Composition:
1. Chaturbhuja Mahakala
2. Chakrasamvara Heruka
3. Kakamukha Mahakala (Raven-headed)
4. Shri Devi
5. Vajradhara
6. Tilopa
7. Naropa
8. Shabdrung Ngagwang Namgyal
9. Je Jamgon
10. Vaishravana Riding a Lion
11. Tseringma Riding a Snow Lion
12. Dorje Yudronma Holding a Drum
13. Ra Dragpa (Regional Protector, Bhutan)
14. Tsiu Marpo
15. Unidentified
16. Mu Tsen (Regional Protector, Bhutan)

Jeff Watt 4-2000 [updated 1-2010]

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Worlds of Transformation

Thematic Sets
Subject: Reading A Painting Main Page
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands (Betapala)
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands Main Page
Region: Bhutan, Protectors
Mahakala (Kagyu)
Region: Bhutan, Paintings
Mahakala - Chaturbhuja (with Consort)