Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Kalachakra (Buddhist Deity) - (4 faces, 24 hands)

དུས་འཁོར། ནང་ལྷ། 时轮(佛教)
(item no. 48242)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Karma (Kagyu) and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection John & Karina Stewart
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Male

TBRC: W22306

Interpretation / Description

Kalachakra and Vishvamata. At the top left is Sahaja Heruka Kalachakra. At the right is the consort white Vishvamata. At the bottom left is Shabala Garuda with Green Jambhala on the right. The composition, colour palette, drawing and subject clearly associate it with the Palpung Monastery style of painting which flourished in the 18th and 19th century under the original patronage of the 8th Tai Situpa, Chokyi Jungne (1700-1774).

This composition belongs to a Twenty-seven Tantric Deity painting set commissioned by the Chokyi Jungne in 1750 - according to his biography. There was an original set created and then many copies replicating the original. Several individual compositions are regarded as potentially belonging to the original commission: HAR #432, #66415, #90529 and this painting of Kalachakra (#48242). (See other sets commissioned by Chokyi Jungne).

Kalachakra and the consort Vishvamata are the principal deities originating in the Sanskrit text - Kalachakra Tantra. The text and meditational practices belong to the classification of Non-dual Anuttarayoga Tantra practiced to a greater or lesser degree by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The concept of 'time' is used as the special metaphor to symbolize the process of transformation from mundane existence to complete enlightenment. From among the numerous lineages to enter Tibet the Rwa and Dro are the most famous.

"...Shri Kalachakra shining forth with stainless light rays of five [colours], with a body blue in colour. Having three necks the central is blue, right red and left white. The main face is black and fierce with bared teeth. The right face is red and desirous. The back face is yellow and in samadhi. The left face is white and very peaceful. Each face has three eyes.

The hair is tied in a tuft [along with] a vishvavajra, crescent moon, and Vajrasattva as a crown, a vajra jewel, vajra earrings, vajra necklace, vajra bracelets, vajra belt, vajra anklets, vajra scarf, vajra mala, and a loose tiger skin skirt.

The first [two] shoulders on the right and left are blue, second red, third white, for a [total] of six [pairs] of shoulders, twelve upper arms and twenty-four hands. The first four [right and left] are black, second four red, third four white. The thumbs of all the hands are yellow, index finger white, middle finger red, ring finger black, and little finger green. The first knuckle is black, second red, third white. All of the fingers are beautiful and radiant.

The first four black right hands hold a vajra, sword, trident and curved knife. The four red [hold] a flaming arrow, vajra hook, a rattling damaru and hammer. The four white [hands hold] a wheel, spear, stick and a battle axe.

The first four black left [hands] hold a vajra bell, shield, katvanga and a skullcup filled with blood. The four red [hold] a bow, vajra lasso, jewel and a white lotus. The four white [hold] a conch, mirror, vajra chain and the four-faced head of Brahma adorned with lotus [flowers].

Above a moon, sun and rahu, standing in a very playful manner, the right red leg is extended atop red Kamadeva having one face and four hands, holding five flower arrows, a bow, lasso and a hook. Under the left white leg is Rudra, white with one face, three eyes and four arms, holding a trident, damaru drum, skullcup and a katvanga. The demon [consorts] Rati and Uma in a woeful [manner] hold the soles [of Kalachakra's feet].

Vishvamata, yellow in colour, embraces [Kalachakra] from the front. The faces, from the right are yellow, white, blue and red, each with three eyes. There are eight arms. The [first] right hands hold a curved knife, hook, a rattling damaru and bead mala. The left [hands hold] a skullcup, lasso, white lotus with eight petals and a jewel. Vajrasattva [appears] as a crown. Adorned with the five mudras. The left leg is extended - standing together with the Bhagavan." (Buton Tamche Kyenpa Rinchen Drub, 1290-1364. dus 'khor sgrub thabs bsdus pa rin po che'i snying po. gsung 'bum rin chen grub [zhol par khang] Volume 5, Pages 163-176. [TBRC W1934]).

"...Sahaja Kalachakra ... with a body blue in colour, one face, two hands holding a vajra and bell, embracing the Mother. The left leg is white and bent pressing on white Ishvara and the right red and extended on the heart of the King of Desire. The hair is in a top-knot and a wishing gem and crescent moon adorn the head; [adorned with] vajra ornaments and wearing a lower garment of tiger skin. For each hand the thumb is yellow, forefinger white, middle finger red, ring-finger black, little finger green. For the garland of joints, the first is black, second red, and third white; with Vajrasattva as a crown; and standing in the middle of a five coloured mountain of fire. Embracing Visvamata, yellow in colour. [She has] one face, two hands, three eyes, holding a curved knife and skullcup; embracing the Father with the right leg bent, left extended. In union with the Father, naked, adorned with the five mudras, part of the hair hangs loose." (Written by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, 1820-1892).

Vishvamata, the consort of Kalachakra, peaceful in appearance, white in colour, with one face and two hands. She sits with the legs in vajrasana posture.

Shabala Garuda: "...Lord Garuda, with three eyes on the face, feathers, a beak, and the Buddhas of the Five Families as a crown. The two hands perform [the gestures of] blessing and pointing. The nails are sharp like hooks. From the soles of the claws/feet to the hips [he is] golden in colour. From there to the navel white, likewise to the neck is red, to the forehead is blue-black, from there on it is green in colour. The wings shine forth with light of five colours. The Naga Kings Raja and Vijaya, green [in colour], bind the hair. For the earrings are black Karkota and Padma. For the bracelets are red Vasuki and Shankapala. For the anklets are yellow Takshaka and Mahapadma. For the necklace and belt are white Ananta and Kulika." (Katog Tsewang Norbu, 1698-1755. gsung 'bum, tshe dbang nor bu. dus 'khor ye shes khyung khra rgyud lugs man ngag rgyun khyer ngag 'don snying po, Volume 2, Pages 683-684).

Green Jambhala According to the Tradition of the Kalachakra Tantra: "...Arya Jambhala, with a body green in colour, adorned with [heavenly] garb and all of the ornaments, seated in a playful manner. The right hand has the palm in a [gesture] of supreme generosity [and holds] a bijapuraka [fruit]. The left [hand] holds a treasure mongoose. [Seated] on the left thigh is the goddess Vasudhara, blue in colour, the right [hand] in the gesture of supreme generosity and embracing the partner [Jambhala]." ('jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse' dbang po, 1820-1892. sgrub thabs kun btus, vol.9. page 185)

Rwa Lineage: Buddha Shakyamuni-Kalachakra, the Shambala King Suchandra, a line of Eight Shambhala Kings ending with Manjukirti and Pundarika, a Manjushri emanation, Chilu Pandita, Pindo Acharya, Kalachakrapada the younger (Naropa), Manjukirti, Samantashri, Rwa Chorab, Rwa Yeshe Sengge, etc.

Kalachakra Lineage, Mahamandala, Abhisheka and Commentary of Vimalaprabha, together with its Branches: Vajradhara, Vajragarbha, Vajra Dakini, Vajracharya Chilupa, Kalachakra the Greater, Kalachakra the Lesser, Anusama Rakshita, Sadhuputra, Dharmakara, Dharmamitra, Bikshata Deva, Panchen Shakyashri, Sakya Pandita, Lama Chokyi Gyalpo (Chogyal Pagpa 1235-1280).

Jeff Watt 6-2010

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Kalachakra (Related Deities)
Painting Style: Palpung Monastery
Painting Set: Twenty-seven Deities (Situ)
Buddhist Deity: Kalachakra (Styles Comparison 1)
Buddhist Deity: Kalachakra Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Kalachakra (Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Kalachakra (4 faces, 24 arms)
Painting Style: Palpung - Peaceful & Semi-Peaceful Deities
Collection: John & Karina Stewart (Painting)