Himalayan Art Resources

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

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 2424)
Origin Location Tibet
Lineages Nyingma and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
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, Mahakala (Tibetan: gon po, chag shi pa. English: the Great Black One with Four Hands). The principal protector of the Chakrasamvara class of Tantras.

Sanskrit: Chaturbhuja Tibetan: Chag shi pa

With one face and four hands, blue-black in colour, Mahakala glares ferociously with three large round eyes, bared fangs and yellow hair flowing upward. The first pair of hands hold a fresh heart and the left a skullcup - held to the chest embracing the consort. The second right hand holds upraised a sword and in the left a staff with a trident point. Ferocious in appearance the consort holds a skullcup in the left hand (not visible) and a curved knife upraised. Both figures are adorned with a tiara of skulls, bone and jewel ornaments, garlands of heads and green silk scarves. The Lord wears a tiger skin as a lower garment and the consort a girdle of finely strung bone ornaments and a skin of leopard. In a relaxed posture they are seated above a multi-coloured lotus, sun and corpse seat surrounded by the orange and red flames of pristine awareness. Eight retinue figures surround the central couple framed within the carnage of cemetery scenes.

At the top center is Padmasambhava with Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal seated at the sides. In the upper left corner is Amitabha Buddha. In the right corner is Vajrasattva. Below that are the teachers of the Nyangral Nyima Ozer lineage.

This form of Chaturbhuja Mahakala was passed from Gva Lotsawa to Nyangral Nyima Ozer. Nyangral subsequently modified the central deity and retinue figures to suite Nyingma practice.

Abhayakaragupta Lineage: Vajradhara, Bodhisattva Mati, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Acharyavira, Du Shap Greater and Younger, Vajrasana the Greater, Abhayakaragupta, Tsami [Lotsawa] Sanggye Shap, Gva Lotsawa Namgyal Dorje, Nyangral Nyima Ozer etc.

Jeff Watt 8-2017

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection: Bonhams Hong Kong (Painting. October, 2017)
Collection: Kapoor Galleries
Collection: Christies New York, March, 2023 (Painting)
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands Main Page
Mahakala - Chaturbhuja (with Consort)
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands (Nyangral)
Collection of Kapoor Galleries: God/Goddess Catalogue
Collection of Anna Maria Rossi & Fabio Rossi