Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Shadbhuja (Shangpa)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 36493)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shadbhuja Mahakala (Tibetan: pal nyur dze ye she kyi gon po chag drug pa. English: the Swift Acting Lord of Pristine Awareness with Six Hands). The wrathful manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara after having taken on the form of Mahakala - the principal protector of the Shangpa Kagyu and Gelugpa Schools. Five attendant deities surround the central figure.

Fearsome and wrathful, blue-black in colour with one face and six hands, held in the first pair is a curved knife and skullcup to the heart. In the second pair is a human skull garland and trident - holding upraised the legs of an elephant skin garment. Held in the lower pair is a damaru (drum) and lasso. Adorned with all the wrathful ornaments and vestments he stands on the prone form of the elephant headed god Ganesh, above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus, surrounded by the orange flames of pristine awareness.

Jeff Watt [added 3-2020]

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mahakala: Shadbhuja [Shangpa] Page (Six-hands)
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Confusions
Painting Tradition: Khyenri Main Page
Mahakala: Shadbhuja (Painting Masterworks)
Painting Style: Khyenri - Wrathful Deities
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Masterworks Page
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala (Video Transcript)