Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Kalachakra (Buddhist Deity)

དུས་འཁོར། ནང་ལྷ། 时轮(佛教)
(item no. 299)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Jonang (Sakya)
Size 99.06x61.60cm (39x24.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.19.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Shri Kalachakra (Tibetan: pal du kyi kor lo. English: the Wheel of Time): surrounded by various deities of the mandala, lineage teachers above and protectors below.

Sanskrit: Kalachakra Tibetan: Du kyi kor lo

Slightly peaceful and slightly wrathful, predominantly blue in colour, he has four faces, twenty-four hands and two legs. The main face is blue, right red, left white and the back face is yellow, each has three eyes. The first set of eight hands (lower) are blue in colour, second (middle) red and third (upper) yellow. The first pair of hands embrace the consort - crossed at the heart holding a vajra and bell. The remaining right hands hold a sword, curved knife, trident, arrows, hook, damaru drum, hammer, wheel, spear, club and axe. The left hands hold a shield, katvanga staff, skullcup, bow, lasso, jewel, lotus, conch shell, mirror, chains and the head of Brahma. Wearing a long green scarf over the shoulders he is wrapped with a tiger skin as a lower garment. The consort, Vishvamata, is yellow, with four faces and eight hands. They are both adorned with crowns, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and various ornaments. The red right leg of the Lord is straight, standing atop the figure of red Kamadeva. The white left leg is bent, standing atop white Rudra. Above the layered discs of a dark blue Rahu (eclipse), red sun and white moon they stand on a multi-coloured lotus blossom seat surrounded by the five coloured lights of pristine awareness fire.

At the top center is the primordial buddha Vajradhara, blue, with one face and two hands holding a vajra and bell at the heart. At each side are lamas wearing orange and red monastic robes and red pandita hats. Next are two mahasiddhas, sparsely clad, wearing long black hair and red meditation belts. At the right side is a king of Shambhala wearing long garments and an elaborate headdress. At the left side is a multi-headed form of Manjushri Namasangiti. The second row of figures, those along the sides and directly below the central Kalachakra, comprise the main attendant deities from the full mandala.

At the bottom center is the wrathful protector for the Kalachakra cycle of Tantras, Vajra Vega (Tib.: dor je shug, Eng.: Vajra Strength). Very wrathful, blue in colour, with four faces, twenty-six hands and two legs he displays the same colours and attributes as Kalachakra. Adorned with wrathful vestments he stands above a corpse and sun disc surrounded by the orange flames of pristine awareness.

At the left is the protector Panjarnata Mahakala, dark blue, with one face and two hands. He is surrounded by the eight-deity entourage composed of Ekajati, Shri Devi, Kartaridhara Mahakala and the five Rakshasas along with miscellaneous figures of the outer retinue. At the right is the tutelary deity Vajrakila, wrathful, blue, with three faces and six hands embracing the consort Diptachakra. Slightly above is Shri Heruka Vajrabhairava, blue, with a buffalo head and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup. Below are the five deities of the Krishna Khrodini mandala (Tib.: tro ma nag mo). Each has one face and two hands, standing in a dancing posture.

The Kalachakra Mandala belongs to the non-dual anuttarayoga tantra classification practiced to a greater or lesser degree by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The concept of 'time' is used as the special metaphor to symbolize the process of transformation from mundane existence to complete enlightenment. From amongst the numerous lineages to enter Tibet the Rwa and Dro are the most famous. The Sakya school maintains seven distinct lineages of transmission.

Rwa Lineage: Buddha Shakyamuni-Kalachakra, the Shambala king Suchandra, a line of 8 Shambhala kings ending with Manjukirti and Pundarika, a Manjushri emanation, Chilu Pandita, Pindo Acharya, Kalachakrapada the younger (Naropa), Manjukirti, Samantashri, Rwa Chorab, Rwa Yeshe Sengge, etc.

Anupama Lineage: Vajradhara, Vajra Garbha, Vajra Dakini, Kalachakrapada, Anupama Rakshita, Sadhu Putra, Dharmakara, Dharma Mitra, Bikshata Deva, Shakya Shri Bhadra, Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251), Chogyal Pagpa (1235-1280), etc.

Jeff Watt 3-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Kalachakra Main Page
Painting Style: Aba Region (Jonang Dzamthang)
Subject: Jonangpa Tradition
Tradition: Jonang Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Kalachakra (4 faces, 24 arms)