Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity)

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 466)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Uncertain
Size 63.18x44.45cm (24.88x17.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.17.1
Painting School Provincial
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Hayagriva (Tibetan: ta drin, English: Horse Necked One): the wrathful activity deity of the Padma (Lotus) Buddha Family.

Fearsome in form, red in colour, he has one face glaring with bulbous eyes and black hair, beard and moustache flowing upward. The top of the head is crowned with a grey horse head looking to the side. The right hand holds upraised a skull stick decorated with a white ribbon. The left hand holds outstretched a white lasso tipped with a gold vajra and hook. Adorned with a crown of skulls, gold earrings, necklace, bracelets, a long green snake and a garland of freshly severed heads, he wears a human skin as an upper garment and a tiger skin below. With the right leg bent and left straight standing upon two prone figures atop a sun disc and purple lotus blossom he dwells within the orange-red flames of pristine awareness. Displayed in front on a low black table and tiger skin cloth is a red triangular torma (stylized food) offering with a skullcup in front and at each side containing wrathful offerings.

In the Sarma system the single faced two handed Hayagriva is predominantly a deity of the Kriya tantra. Within the Kriya classification Amitayus is the buddha of the Padma Family, Avalokiteshvara is the lord, Tara is the mother and Hayagriva is the wrathful activity deity.

Jeff Watt 2-99

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Iconography: Reversed Images