Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity)

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 116)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma, Shangpa Kagyu and Gelug
Size 68.58x45.72cm (27x18in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.16.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Hayagriva, Secret Accomplishment (Tibetan: tam drin, sang drup. English: Horse Neck). A manifestation of the wrathful activity of Buddha Amitabha; from the Terma (Treasure) Tradition of Kyergangpa.

??King of the Wrathful, Hayagriva, with a body red in colour, three faces and six hands. The main face is red, right green, left white. Each face has three eyes, radiant, with bared fangs. The hair, moustache and beard are blazing. At the crest of the three faces are three green horse heads with mouths sounding with the neighing of horses. ? With six hands, the first right holds a vajra, second a katvanga, third a sword. The first left a wrathful gesture, second a spear, third a lasso of intestine. Having a crown of five dry human skulls and a necklace of fifty fresh, wearing an upper garment of human skin and an elephant hide, and a lower garment of tiger skin; with a Brahman cord of human hair. Adorned with drops of blood, clots of mold, bunches of charnel ashes and coils of snakes. The eight legs trample upon the eight great nagas in the aspect of snakes; standing in the vast blazing fire of pristine awareness.? (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje (1646-1714) and Min-ling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang, Part I, page 247-248).

At the top center sits Buddha Amitabha, red in colour with the two hands folded in the posture of meditation. To the left is Khasarpani Avalokiteshvara, white with one face and two hands, seated in a relaxed manner. Below that is White Manjushri (Siddhaikavira Tantra) with one face and two hands, the right in the gesture of generosity and the left holding a lotus stem blossoming at the left ear supporting the Prajnaparamita book.

To the right of Amitabha is Vajrasattva with one face and two hands holding a vajra and bell. Below that is the goddess of wisdom and the arts, Sarasvati, white in colour, with the two hands holding and strumming a stringed instrument (Skt.: vina); seated in a relaxed posture.

At the bottom center is the Great Black One with Six Hands, Shadbhuja Mahakala, wrathful emanation of Avalokiteshvara, blue-black in colour and surrounded by the flames of wisdom. To the left is Kurukulle, goddess of power from the Hevajra Tantra, red with one face and four hands; standing in a dancing posture. To the right is the great powerful red one, Ganapati, the dancing elephant headed god with one face and twelve hands; emanation of Avalokiteshvara. These two red deities arise from the collection known as ?the 13 Golden Dharmas? of Sakya. At the right corner is yellow Vasudhara, goddess of wealth, with one face and six hands; seated in a relaxed posture. At the left corner is the wealth deity Vaishravana with one face and two hands; riding a snow lion.

The ?Secret Accomplishment? Hayagriva, practiced in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, is a Treasure Teaching of the Nyingmapas discovered by Nyemowa Sanggye Wangchen (12th century). The Shangpa Kagyu master Kyergangpa acquired the teaching directly from Guru Rinpoche in a dream and was further instructed to receive the teaching of the ?Terma? from Nyemowa. The practice was then made famous throughout Tibet by the lama Kyergangpa.

An inscription of fine gold lettering in Nepali ?lantsa? script runs along the bottom front of the painting.

Jeff Watt 9-98

Related Items
Publications
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Secret Accomplishment)
Subject: Pilgrimage Souvenir Paintings (Newar Merchants)
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Painting Style: Men-ri (New)
Tradition: Shangpa Kagyu Main Page