Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Maning (Eunuch)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 282)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Size 41.91x27.94cm (16.50x11in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.17.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Neuter

Interpretation / Description

Eunuch Lord (Tibetan: pal ye she gyi gon po ma ning nag po, English: The glorious lord of Pristine Awareness, Black Eunuch): foremost protector of the Revealed Treasure (terma) tradition, body emanation of Mahakala and lord of all wisdom and oath-bound worldly protectors of the Nyingmapa School.

Tibetan: Ma ning

"...Glorious Lord of Pristine Awareness, Black Eunuch, with a body blue-black in colour, one face and two hands. Holding aloft in the right, pointed to the sky, a flaming lance, and in the left a poisoned heart and lasso. With three round red eyes, a curled tongue and hanging black snakes for hair. Having a crown of five dry skulls and a necklace of fifty fresh. Adorned with a garland of hearts and piles of snakes, dressed in silk cloaks, black and layered. Having a gold belt and a girdle of fresh human skin. From the three doors of a great stick of sandalwood, fastened at the waist, an army of snakes is dispersed. Decorated with varieties of colourful flowing streamers and all the frightful ornaments. Standing with the left leg extended atop a corpse seat..." (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje 1646-1714 and Minling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang pp. 121-123).

Lineage: Kuntu Zangpo, Chemchog, Palgon, Orgyan Yab-yum, Terton Chowang, Manlungpa, Dagton, Nyenton, Sedingpa Khupon, Paljor Wangchug, Chokyi Wangpo, Karma Guru, Nyadag Trulku, Chowang Kunzang, Rigdzin Tinle Lhundrup, etc. Also see the variant lineages of Dorje Lingpa, Ratna Lingpa, Pema Lingpa and Jatson Nyingpo. (Tibetan source text page 20).

Detailed Description: Blue-black in colour with one face and two hands threatening in appearance with round red eyes and a snarling mouth, he holds upraised in the right hand a spear with a red-black pendant. The left hand holds up to the mouth a dark red heart and black lasso. The hair is a heap of yellow curls entwined with black snakes. Adorned with a crown of skulls, gold and jewel ornaments, wrathful vestments, he wears a great black cloak with gold design. Around the waist wrapped as a belt is a human skin securing a red 'ghandi' stick of sandalwood. With the right leg bent and the left straight atop a prone figure he stands surrounded by the bright burning orange and red flames of pristine awareness.

"Glorious great emanation of the body of the Great Black One, trustee of the king of the wrathful, executioner of enemies and hindrances, great deity, glorious and blazing, lord of all Dharma protectors; homage to the glorious lord, Black Eunuch." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

At the top center is a wrathful standing figure, brown in colour, with one face and two hands holding the right upraised with the left holding a skullcup to the heart. At the right is a lama wearing the attire of a monk and a red pandita hat. The right hand performs the mudra (gesture) of earth witness and the left held at the heart performs the mudra of blessing. At the left corner a powerful lama wearing monastic robes and a pandita hat holds a vajra outstretched in the right hand and a kila (three edged dagger) in the left; completely surrounded by a halo of fire.

Along the bottom are three of the main attendant deities to the Black Eunuch. At the left is Rahula, maroon in colour with nine faces and four hands. The first right holds a makara (sea creature) banner and in the left a snake lasso. The second pair holds a bow and arrow ready to shoot. Entirely covered with eyes, the lower body in the form of a snake rises from a turbulent sea of blood. In the center is Raudrantika, dark blue, with one face and two hands holding a spear aloft in the right and a bow and arrow outstretched in the left. Wearing in a cloak and all the wrathful vestments, he rides atop a black horse. At the right is Vajra Sadhu, red in colour, holding a gold vajra upraised in the right hand and a red heart to the mouth with the left; wearing a brightly coloured cloak and riding a brown goat with two curved horns.

Jeff Watt 4-99

Related Items
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images

Thematic Sets
Subject: Androgynous Gods, Gender Reversed Deities
Mahakala: Maning (Eunuch) Main Page
Subject: Gender Confusions
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Main Page
Mahakala (Nyingma)