Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity) - Black

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 4)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma, Gelug and Buddhist
Size 66.04x37.47cm (26x14.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.1.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Black Hayagriva (Tibetan: tam drin. English: the Black Horse Necked One): from the Revealed Treasure Tradition of Guru Chowang (1212-1273). Various stylistic elements suggest the painting originates from the North-eastern Amdo region of Tibet and the product of a Gelug monastery.

Video: Black Hayagriva: HAR #4

"...on a great blazing mandala of a blue-black dharmakara (or dharmadayo), lotus and sun seat, is the King of the Wrathful, Hayagriva, with a very fierce body blue-black in colour. With one face, two hands and three eyes, the face is radiant with bared fangs, blazing orange beard and moustache. A green horse head on the crown neighs - gathering the power of the Three Realms. The right hand holds a sword aloft severing the heads and bodies of enemies into pieces. The left holds a hook to conduct the life force of enemies and hindrances and from the tip of the wrathful gesture an iron scorpion emanates and comes forth. In a manner of play with the left extended the two feet are supported by enemies and hindrances. The body is dressed in a great cloak of black silk and a human hide with a lower garment of tiger skin. Having a crown of five dry skulls and a necklace of fifty wet, snake coils of the five naga races, complete with the eight glorious articles. Above the horse head [on the crown] is a garuda of fire with beak and talons of iron, subduing daemons, nagas and planets, standing in a vast blazing heap of fire. On the right is the Glorious Blazing Yaksha, red, holding a fire hammer and a lasso. On the left is the Iron Hair Yaksha, having the form of a yellow-black Kirata, holding an iron vajra and hook. In front is the emanation of the assistant, the Iron Scorpion, black, with nine mouths and nine eyes, raging with poison..." (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje (1646-1714) and Min-ling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang, Part I, pp.269-270).

Wrathful in appearance, blue in colour, with one face and two hands he has three eyes, a gaping mouth and dark hair flowing upward. On the top of the head is a green horse, head with an orange mane - facing to the left. The right hand holds aloft a vajra-handled sword and the left held to the breast clutches a vajra hook. Adorned with a crown of five skulls, gold and jewel earrings, necklaces and the like, a garland of fifty fresh heads, he wears a long cloak of various colours, an outer garment of an elephant hide and a tiger skin wrapped about the waist. With the right leg bent and left straight atop two prone figures of enemies and obstacles, a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus, he stands above a triangular enclosure (Sanskrit: dharmadayo) surrounded by the bright orange-red flames of pristine awareness. An orange Garuda, biting down on a snake, soars at the peak. At the bottom center is a large black scorpion with one eye edged with burning flames.

At the left a smaller wrathful attendant, red, holding a vajra hammer in the right hand and a lasso in the left, wears wrathful vestments and attire, standing above a dharmadayo. At the right is a wrathful blue attendant holding a vajra in the right hand and a hook in the left, attired and standing in the same manner. Below is a large white skullcup filled with the wrathful offerings of the five senses cooked and heated with the red flames of pristine awareness.

At the top center is the Buddha of boundless light, Amitabha, Lord of the Lotus Family, red in colour with the hands placed in the lap performing the mudra of meditation. At the left is Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, white, with one face and four hands. At the right is Guru Padmasambhava, holding a vajra to the heart and a skullcup in the lap; a katvanga staff leans against the left shoulder, attired in various robes and a lotus hat. A small figure at the side, the consort Yeshe Tsogyal, offers upraised a libation in a white skullcup.

At the lower left is the very wrathful protector Rahula, dark blue, with nine faces crowned by a raven's head, and four hands. Held in the first pair is a Makara (sea creature) banner and a snake lasso. Held in the second are a bow and arrow tightly drawn. The lower body is a coiled snake. Below, the wrathful female protector Remati is dark blue, with one face and two hands, holding upraised in the right a stick, and a skullcup to the heart with the left. Riding atop a light brown mule in a sea of blood, she is surrounded by black billowing smoke. At the right is the avowed protector Vajra Sadhu, red, with one face and two hands. Held aloft in the right is a gold vajra and in the left a heart held to the mouth, clutching in the bend of the elbow a spear and pendant, bow and arrows. Attired in a long black cloak, round hat and boots, he rides atop a white snow lion with a green mane above a sea of blood, surrounded by dark smoke and licks of flame.

Hayagriva, typically red in colour, is the wrathful activity deity of the Lotus (Padma) Family of Buddha Amitabha. Common to both the Nyingma and Sarma schools, practices are found in all the various levels of tantra classification, from simple forms to complex deities with extensive attendants and detailed mandalas.

Jeff Watt 5-99

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Main Page
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Subject: Tetrahedron (dharmakara/dharmadayo) Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Physical Appearance
Collection Index: Publications Page
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva, Black
Subject: Scorpion Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Painting Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Black) Masterworks
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Iconography
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Painting Style: Men-ri (New)