Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity) - Red with consort (1 face, 2 hands)

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 30911)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Nyingma and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Hayagriva and Consort Mandala (Tibetan: ta drin, English: Horse Necked One): a Tantric Buddhist meditational deity of the Padma family and associated with both Amitabha Buddha and Avalokiteshvara. 18th and 19th century practices of a Hayagriva couple, without a mandala and additional deities, use the name Chintamani Hayagriva-Vajravarahi (Tibetan: ta pag yi shin nor bu. English: the Wish-fulfilling Jewel, Horse-necked One and Vajra Sow).(See other images of Hayagriva and Consort with one face and two hands).

There are four visual components to this mandala. The first is the large central mandala containing a palace and deities. The second component is comprised of the figures and structures outside of the immediate central mandala. the third and fourth components are the top register and then the bottom register.

The central figure of the mandala is Hayagriva and consort. He is red in colour with one face and two hands. A single green horse head sits atop his own. In the right is a curved knife upraised and in the left a white skullcup. A tantric katvanga staff leans against his left shoulder. Wearing wrathful ornaments, a flayed elephant skin as a robe, he stands on two prone figures, one light and the other dark in colour. The consort embrace the male form with her right leg wrapped about his waist. She holds a curved knife and skull bowl the same as the partner and is adorned with bone ornaments.

Two circles of figures surround the central couple - an inner ring and an outer ring. At the top of the inner ring of six figures is a form of the dharmakaya Buddha similar to Samantabhadra or Vajradhara Buddha. He is blue in colour and embraces a consort. The remaining five figures are known as the Longku Totreng Rig Nga and represent five forms of Padmasambhava.

The outer ring of sixteen figures depict the Eight Forms of Padmasambhava. These eight begin at the top of the ring and move around the ring in the four directions and four intermediate directions. Each of these figures is identifiable by their standard iconographic appearance and attributes. Between each of these eight recognizable forms of Padmasambhava are eight additional figures. Each of these eight stand in the same posture and fold the hands across the chest grasping a vajra and bell in the vajra embracing gesture. The only characteristic that allows these eight to be distinguished one from the other is there individual unique colour. It is very possible that these eight figures represent the Eight Indian Vidydharas of the Nyingma Tantric system. These eight historical figures are often elevated to a deity-like status and placed within ritual and meditation practices of the 'Terma' Revealed Treasure Tradition. (See a late example of the Eight Vidyadharas placed within a meditational cycle of practice).

Outside of the ring but still within the square enclosure of the mandala palace, at the intermediate directions, are four wrathful figures - each embracing a consort. Outside of the outer ring are four doors placed at the cardinal points. Each of these doors is guarded by a wrathful deity with the body colour appropriate to the direction in which they stand. (See another painting of a mandala that share a number of the same attendant deities as the Hayagriva Mandala above).

In the register at the top center is Amitayus Buddha, red in colour, with tha hands in the gesture of meditation. On the viewer's left is Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara, Padmasambhava, King Trisong Detsen, followed by three monastic figures. On the right side of Amitayus are four monastic figures followed by a layperson seated on an angle and with one knee raised. The lineage of this Hayagriva practice belongs to the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and likely begins with the 11th to 13th century teachers Draba Ngonshe (1012-1090), Nyangral Nyima Oser (1136-1204), Guru Chowang (1212-1270). The first of these three teachers was also the discoverer of the Tibetan Four Medical Tantras and was a strong proponent of the Hayagriva practice. The principal meditational practice for the Four Medical Tantras is Hayagriva in this same one faced, two armed form, with a consort represented above. However, the surrounding figures in the mandala above are not mentioned in the Drapa Ngonshe literature and most likely to be related to Nyangral or Guru Chowang.

At the upper right and left are two mandalas. In the mandala on the right is white Amitayus embracing a consort, accompanied by four wrathful attendants. On the left side is a mandala of red Amitayus in solitary aspect also accompanied by four wrathful attendants. Standing outside of the two mandalas are offering goddesses of various colours. Two additional goddesses are represented below. At the lower right and left sides are an additional two mandalas of red Amitayus. Both central figures are embracing a consort and accompanied by the four wrathful deities in the surrounding four directions.

On the lower left side next to the small mandala, above the bottom register, are two donor figures. The figure on the left is wearing monastic attire and the figure on the right is wearing the garb of a Tibetan woman. Both have name inscriptions which are partially effaced. The female is named either Gendun Drolma or Gendun Dronma. On the opposite right side a solitary monastic figure holds a vajra and bell in upraised hands. His name inscription reads Kunga.

The bottom register has a number of different figures arranged in three general types. At the far right and left are protector deities and in the center are offering goddesses. In the bottom left corner is the wisdom protector Chaturbhuja Mahakala, blue in colour, with one face and four hands. Immediately next to Mahakala is a worldly protector deity, warrior-like in appearance, riding a white horse, led by an attendant walking in front.

At the far right is Shri Devi Dorje Rabtenma, blue in colour, holding a sword upraised and a mongoose in the left hand. She rides atop a beige donkey. To the left of her is a worldly protector deity, female, riding a white yak, along with holding onto the leash of a white dog. The two worldly protector deities in the bottom register are very similar to local deities found in the early murals of Western Tibet.

Between the two groups of protector deities are the Sixteen Offering Goddesses, appearing with various body colours and holding a variety of objects and symbols. The each stand in dancing postures with the torso and legs slightly bent. (See another example of the Sixteen Offering Goddesses in a similar composition).

Hayagriva is a Tantric Buddhist meditational deity that can be found in all four of the Tantric text classifications: Kriya, Charya, Yoga and Anuttarayoga. In his most basic form Hayagriva is typically red in colour, with one face and two hands, wrathful in appearance. According to the Kriya Tantra system he is the wrathful activity deity of the Lotus (Padma) Family of the Amitabha Buddha.

In Tibetan Buddhism Hayagriva is common to both the Nyingma and Sarma Schools (Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug) and his practices are found ranging from simple forms to complex deities with multiple faces and arms, inhabiting mandalas accompanied by numerous attendant figures. Hayagriva is also one of the principal deities in the Nyingma system of the Eight Heruka deities (Kagye).

Jeff Watt 1-2013

Central Hayagriva Mandala - Deities:
1. Hayagriva
2. Consort
3. Vajradhara/Samantabhadra
4. Longku Totreng Rig Nga
5. Longku Totreng Rig Nga
6. Longku Totreng Rig Nga
7. Longku Totreng Rig Nga
8. Longku Totreng Rig Nga
9. Pema Gyalpo
10. Sengge Dradog
11. Loden Chogse
12. Dorje Drolo
13. Oddiyana Vajradhara
14. Nyima Oser
15. Pema Jungne
16. Shakya Sengge
17. Vidyadhara
18. Vidyadhara
19. Vidyadhara
20. Vidyadhara
21. Vidyadhara
22. Vidyadhara
23. Vidyadhara
24. Vidyadhara
25. Guardian, South-west Direction
26. Guardian, North-west Direction
27. Guardian, North-east Direction
28. Guardian, South-east Direction
29. Door Guardian, South Direction
30. Door Guardian, West Direction
31. Door Guardian, North Direction
32. Door Guardian, East Direction

Surrounding Outer Composition:
A. Red Amitayus Mandala
B. White Amitayus Mandala
C. Red Amitayus Mandala wiith Consort (sattvasana)
D. Red Amitayus Mandala with Consort (vajrasana)
E. Six Offering Goddesses
F. Monk Figure (donor)
G. Female Figure (Gendun Drolma or Gendun Dronma - donor)
H. Monk Figure - Teacher (Kunga)

Top Register:
1. Amitabha/Amitayus Buddha
2. Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara
3. Shakyamuni Buddha
4. Padmasambhava
5. Monastic Figure
6. King Trisong Detsen
7. Monastic Figure
8. Monastic Figure
9. Monastic Figure
10. Monastic Figure
11. Monastic Figure
12. Monastic Figure
13. Lay Figure

Bottom Register:
1. Chaturbhuja Mahakala
2. Worldly Protector Deity
3. Sixteen Offering Goddesses
4. Worldly Protector Deity
5. Shri Devi Dorje Rabtenma

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Nyingma: Mandala Masterworks
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Iconography
Collection: Private 1
Teacher: Nyangral Nyima Ozer (Related Subjects)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Religious Context
Mandala: Early Works (1100-1399)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Main Page
Padmasambhava: Early Images (Primary & Secondary)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Painting Masterworks)
Mandala: Masterworks Page
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Early Works)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Couple)