Himalayan Art Resources

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

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 387)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc. # F1997.30.4
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): the body emanation of Mahakala and lord of all enlightened and worldly protectors of the Nyingma School; from the tradition of Terton Chowang (1212-1270) [TBRC P326].

Tibetan: Ma ning Tibetan script:

"...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, Part II, page 121-123).

Tibetan Source Text

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: Black and raging with one face gaping ferociously, three eyes bulging, blood shot and glaring, he stares menacingly haloed by hair, yellow, rising both upward and falling to the sides, a nest of writhing black snakes. With two hands the right holds a spear with a trident tip, adorned with a skull and pendant, planted on the head of a prone figure below. The right hand holds to the mouth a fresh red heart with three trailing arteries. Loosely wrapped about the hand is a gold lasso attached to the neck of a wretched figure, arms bound. Adorned with a crown of five dry skulls, gold and jewel ornaments, a necklace of fifty decomposing severed heads and a garland of hearts, punctured and dripping, he wears a large black cloak ornamented with gold design. The shoulders are covered with a fresh human skin. Secured in the belt is a long 'ghandi' staff of sandalwood tipped with a jewel on top and a half vajra below. Ornately attired in boots, with the right leg slightly bent and the left straight, above a heap of corpses human and animal, multi-coloured lotus, sun disc and two prone forms, he stands encircled by the orange-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 buddha figure, blue, with the hands folded in the lap, attired in sambhogakaya silks and jewels; embraced by a consort. Directly below is the terrific tutelary deity Chemchog Heruka with three faces, six hands and a consort; attired in all the wrathful vestments. The right hands hold gold vajras and the left skullcups. At the top left is a dynamic Padmasambhava threatening with an upraised vajra while thrusting forward with a skullcup. On the right is the wrathful Vajrapani with one face and two hands. At the left corner is the Red-Black Butcher, maroon in colour with one face and four hands, holding a curved knife and skullcup with the first pair and a sword in the upraised right and a lasso in the left; riding a garuda bird. At the right corner is the Black Butcheress holding a heart in the right hand and a bag of disease in the left, in a standing posture.

Descending at the left is maroon coloured Ekajati with one eye, one tooth and one breast. She holds a human corpse aloft in the right hand and a heart to the mouth with the left. Below is Shadbhuja Mahakala with one face and six hands, standing. Below that is Mahakala of the Staff, maroon in colour holding a 'ghandi' staff in the right hand and a kila (three edged dagger) at the heart in the left; wearing a long cloak. Below is Mahakala Riding a Tiger holding upraised a sandalwood staff in the right hand and an iron begging bowl filled with blood in the left; wearing a black cloak and riding on the back of a tiger. Below is Sadhu Kala holding a precious jewel aloft with the right hand a skullcup with the left; wearing a cloak and riding a snow lion. Below is the Activity Life Daemon, black, holding a bow and arrow ready to shoot, attired in a cloak and riding a black horse. To the right is Chaturmukha Mahakala, black, with four faces and four hands holding a curved knife and skullcup in the first pair, an upraised sword in the second right and a garland of skulls in the left; standing in a threatening posture. At the bottom left is Dorje Legpa, red in colour, holding a vajra upraised in the right hand and a red heart to the mouth with the left; wearing a cloak and riding a brown goat.

Descending at the right is Panjarnatha Mahakala holding a curved knife and skullcup at the heart and supporting a 'ghandi' stick across the forearms; standing with both legs together. Below is Mahakala with the Symbol of a Raven, black, with one face and four hands holding a coconut and skullcup in the first pair and a sword and trident upraised in the second. Wearing a human skin and in a seated posture, he is embraced by the consort. Below is Mahakala Kartaridhara holding aloft a curved flaying knife with the right hand and holding to the heart a blood filled skullcup. In a standing posture he wears a long cloak. Below is Trakshe, black, holding a spear in the right hand and the heart of an enemy in the left. Further armed with bow and arrow, he wears a black cloak and rides a black horse. Below is Rahula with nine faces and four hands. The first right hand holds a makara (sea creature) banner and the left a snake lasso. The second pair holds a bow and arrow ready to shoot. Entirely covered with eyes, the lower body is also in the form of a snake. Below to the left is Remati, a form of Mahakali (Tib.: pal den lha mo), black with one face and four hands. The first right holds aloft a skull stick and in the left outstretched a bag of disease. The second pair holds a curved knife and skullcup to the heart and she rides a mule in the middle of an ocean of blood. At the bottom right is Pehar, red, with one face and two hands holding a knife in the upraised right and a small bag in the left. Wearing a round hat and long cloak he rides on a white elephant.

At the bottom center is the wrathful wealth deity Black Jambhala with one face and two hands holding a skullcup to the heart with the right and a jewel spitting mongoose against the hip with the left. Adorned with gold and jewel ornaments, otherwise naked, he stands in a priapic state leaning with the right leg bent and left straight. Above, wrathful offerings of the five senses, overflowing from a large white skullcup, are arranged in front of the central figure of Mahakala. At the bottom left and right above hearth stones of three skulls and red licks of fire large skullcups bubble and steam with the offerings of nectar and triangular blood tormas (stylized food).

Along with the entourage of the Genderless Lord the painting contains the major forms of Mahakala found in the Sarma Schools (non-Nyingma) of Tibetan Buddhism. Painted on a black background in the style of a 'nag tang' or 'black scroll,' colour is added as outline and fill to bring life to the figures while maintaining an ethereal fearsome and wrathful mood. Most names are written in fine gold Tibetan lettering beneath or along side each figure.

[Central] dpal ye she gyi mgon po ma ning nag po la na mo. [Left to right from the top] gshan pa dmar nag, oya na, phyag rdor, shan pa nag mo, ral chig ma, che mchog he ru ka, gur mgon, phag drug pa, phya rog mtshan, beng chen, gri gug, stag shon, drag, legs ldan nag po, las mgon srog, pal mgon shal, re ma ti, ra hu la, rdor legs, dzam bha la, bi har.

Jeff Watt 4-99

Numbered Image:
1. Samantabhadra Buddha
2. Padmasambhava
3. Vajrapani
4. Chemchog Heruka
5. Shanpa Marnag
6. Shanpa nagmo
7. Ekajati
8. Panjarnata Mahakala
9. Shadbhuja Mahakala
10. Chaturbhuja Mahakala
11. Danda Mahakala
12. Kartaridhara Mahakala
13. Vyagra Vahana Mahakala
14. Raudrantika
15. Sadhu Kala
16. Legon Sogdu
17. Rahula
18. Chaturmukha
19. Remati
20. Dorje Legpa
21. Pehar
22. Black Jambhala

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: Homage to The Glorious Lord of Pristine Awareness, Black Eunuch.

Maroon Butcher. Oddiyana. Vajrapani. Black Butcheress. One Braid. Great Supreme One - Blood Drinker. Lord of the Pavillion. Six Hands. Marked by a Crow. Stick Wielder. Curved Knife. Tiger Riding. ...Wrathful. Black Excellent One. Activity Lord Life Demon. Glorious Lord [of the Four] Faces. Remati. Rahula. Vajra Excellent One. Jambhala. Pehar.

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: [Central] dpal ye she gyi mgon po ma ning nag po la na mo. [Left to right from the top] gshan pa dmar nag, oya na, phyag rdor, shan pa nag mo, ral chig ma, che mchog he ru ka, gur mgon, phyag drug pa, phya rog mtshan, beng chan, gri gug, stag shon, trak ..., legs ldan nag po, las mgon srog bdud, pal mgon shal, re ma ti, ra hu la, rdor legs, dzam bha la, bi har.

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (Ranjana script (Ornamental Sanskrit), includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publications
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images

Thematic Sets
Mahakala: Maning (Eunuch) Main Page
Mahakala: Maning (Masterworks)
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Main Page
Mahakala (Nyingma)
Tradition: Nyingma Tradition Main Page