Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Chaturbhuja (Four-hands)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 4817)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Buddhist
Size 24cm (9.45in) high
Material Metal, Painted Face/Hair
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Summary: This form of Mahakala can be either a protector deity (dharmapala) or a meditational deity (ishtadevata).

Interpretation / Description

Chaturbhuja, Mahakala (Tibetan: gon po, chag shi pa. English: the Great Black One with Four Hands). The principal protector of the Chakrasamvara class of Tantras.

Sanskrit: Chaturbhuja Tibetan: Chag shi pa

With one face and four hands, blue-black in colour, Mahakala glares ferociously with three large round eyes, bared fangs and orange hair flowing upward. The first pair of hands hold a coconut and the left a skullcup - held to the heart. The second right hand holds upraised a sword and in the left a trident staff. Adorned with a crown of skulls, bone and jewel ornaments, garlands of heads and scarves. The Lord wears a tiger skin as a lower garment and bone ornaments. In a relaxed posture he is seated above a lotus, sun and corpse seat.

A dedication inscription with numerous spelling errors is written around the base of the sculpture.

Jeff Watt 6-2022


'With an aureole blazing like the age of fire,
A body of dark blue color, one face and four arms,
Holding a coconut, curved knife, sword, skull of blood and a khatvanga staff.
To the glorious Lord of Wisdom [I] bow!
May I and all being's every adverse obstacle be completely cleared!
To his own life-force, OM SVAHA.'

skal pa me ltar 'bar ba'i rlong dkyil na/ sku mngog mthid nag zhal cig phyab zhi pa/ bhe ta ral gri thod khrag kha tam 'dzin/ dpal yi shes mgan po la phyag 'tshal/ bdag sogs /khor bcas gyi 'gal rkyen bar cad thams cad zhi bar gyur cig// kho la bla rang gi/ oM swa ha/

Laura A. Weinstein 5-2022

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands (Betapala)
Collection: Bonhams, Paris (June 2022)
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands Main Page
Sculpture: Tsang Province Atelier, Tibet
Sculpture: Tsang Province Atelier (Iconography)
Collection: Claude de Marteau (Brussels)