Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrakila (Eight Pronouncements)

རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕུར་པ། 金刚普巴(本尊)
(item no. 379)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 43.18x34.29cm (17x13.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.20.25
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Vajrakila, Heruka (Tibetan: dor je phur ba, drag tung. English: Vajra Peg, Blood Drinker). Also known as Vajra Kumara (Vajra Youth) he is the activity deity from the set of Eight Herukas (Tib.: ka gye) of the Mahayoga Tantras of the Nyingmapa School.

Sanskrit: Vajrakila

Extremely wrathful with three faces, six hands and four legs, each face has three eyes, a gaping mouth, curled red tongue and yellow hair flowing upward. The first pair of hands hold a sharp pointed kila (three sided peg) at the heart. The right hands hold extended to the sides a five and nine pointed gold vajra sceptre and the left hands extended outward hold a decorative trident ornamented with streamers and a mass of flame entwined around the index finger and bursting forth. Unfurled behind are two large feathered wings. With a crown of five dry human skulls, he wears a gold half-vajra on the crown of the central head. Adorned with earrings, bracelets and a necklace of fifty heads, he wears an elephant hide and human skin across the back and a tiger skin around the waist. The consort Diptachakra (Flaming Wheel) has one face and two hands holding a skullcup in the left. Adorned with jewels and gold she wears a leopard skin skirt. The left leg is raised to embrace the male consort. In a posture with the two right legs bent and the left straight atop the splayed bodies of Maheshvara and Uma, a sun disc and lotus blossom, the terrific deities stand surrounded by the swirling orange-red flames of pristine awareness. A skullcup of wrathful offerings a surrounded by precious jewels is offered in front. Along each side are landscape scenes of mountains and waterfalls filling the background.

At the top center in a radiant sphere sits the buddha Vajrasattva, peaceful, with one face and two hands holding a vajra at the heart and a bell at the waist, seated on a lotus flower. At the left is Green Tara with one face and two hands holding the stems of two lotus blossoms, seated in a relaxed posture with the right leg extended resting on a small lotus flower. At the left is the wealth goddess Vasudhara with one face and two hands holding a bijapuraka fruit in the right and the stem of a blossoming lotus to the heart with the left hand. Both, seated in a relaxed posture, are adorned with gold and jewel ornaments and attired in flowing silk garments.

"Supreme Kilaya, son of the gathered wrathful Victors, exhibiting a vajra with the power to eliminate without obstruction. Liberator, deity of activity transcending violence; homage to the form of Vajra Kumara." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

The style of painting is 'black scroll' (Tib.: nag thang) - gold outline on a black background with a minimal use of coloured pigments for detailing the figures. This style is reserved for wrathful tutelary deities and protectors.

Jeff Watt 2-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Vajrakila Main Page