Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Nagaraksha (Buddhist Deity)

ཀླུའི་བདག་པོ། ནང་ལྷ། 龙王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 569)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma and Drigung (Kagyu)
Size 90.17x62.23cm (35.50x24.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.41.5
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Nagaraksha (Tibetan: lui srin po. English: Naga Daemon), wrathful emanation of Manjushri, with nine faces, 18 hands and the lower body of a snake - protecting from noxious plagues caused by nagas.

Fiercely wrathful, maroon in colour, he has nine faces each with three bulbous eyes, a wide gaping mouth and curled tongue. The orange and yellow eyebrows, moustache and hair on the head all flame upward, interspersed with writhing snakes. At the very top a small figure of Akshobhya Buddha, blue in colour, sits within a sphere of light. The two main hands placed at the heart hold a curved knife and snake lasso. The eight right hands, extended to the side, hold curved knives. The eight left hands hold snake lassos. Each head is adorned with a crown of gold and jewels, and pendant earrings. Necklaces of various types, long snakes and snake bracelets adorn the torso and limbs of the body. The shoulders are covered with a green scarf and the waist with a red and blue skirt tied with a yellow sash. The lower body is that of a coiled snake, seated atop a prone dark coloured naga figure, a rat, scorpion, frog, turtle and a fish. Above a white moon disc, multi-coloured lotus blossom and dark blue pond, pressing on various creatures below, the bright orange flames of pristine awareness completely encircle as he leans against a mountain in the shape of tiered steps. Outside of that is a twisted enclosure and canopy of six entwined snakes extending from the ground to the sky.

At the lower left side is a red attendant daemon with on face and two hands, dark horns, a bag of disease and blue trousers. At the right side a peaceful black naga with the hands respectfully folded offers a lotus flower.

At the top left is the Buddha Nagaraja with a white face and blue body. The hands are held together at the heart performing the mudra (gesture) 'which prevents lower rebirths.' Seated in vajra posture surrounded by a blue-orange nimbus, the head is encircled by an aureola of dark green adorned with seven snakes. At the right is Simhanada Avalokiteshvara, peaceful, white in colour. The right hand is extended in the mudra of generosity. The left supports the body pressing on the seat behind. In a relaxed posture, he rides atop a white snow lion.

Jeff Watt 6-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Tradition: Kagyu Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery III
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Nagaraksha Main Page
Tradition: Drigung Kagyu Main Page
Subject: Protectors - Wrathful Deities that are not Protectors