Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Garuda - Black

ཁྱུང་། བོན་ལྷ། 大鹏(苯教本尊)
(item no. 570)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug
Size 39.37x29.21cm (15.50x11.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.41.6
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Animal-Feature

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Garuda, Black (Tibetan: khyung nag po) used to transmute the various poisons of worldly existence, specifically the harm caused by nagas.

Tibetan: Khyung

Having the face of a bird, two eyes, a beak and two horns raising above with a slight curve, his orange eyebrows and hair flow upward like flame. The arms are outstretched to each side holding the head and tail of a long spotted snake while biting the mid-section with the beak. On the crown of the head is a golden jewel plundered from the Naga Realms. He is adorned with gold and jewel ornaments in the form of bracelets, armlets and two necklaces. Behind and beneath the arms green and brown feathered wings are unfurled. From the waist up he is blue-black in colour. The waist and lower body are well covered in yellow plumage with dark brown tail feathers showing between the legs. With two red talons each clutching a green snake he stands above a sun disc and pink lotus seat. In front of a four tiered white structure symbolic of mount Sumeru, the king of mountains, Black Garuda stands completely surrounded by red and orange flames of pristine awareness.

At the top left is a Gelugpa lama wearing monastic robes and a yellow pandita hat holding the right hand at the heart in a gesture of blessing and the left cradling a black begging bowl in the lap. At the right side is a lama wearing monastic robes and a yellow cap typical of the early Panchen lamas. Both are seated on cushions with backrests.

Historically, from classical Indian mythology, Garuda is the king of birds. In Tantric Buddhism, Garuda is yet another form in which various buddhas arise for the purpose of removing disease and injury caused by nagas and poisoning. Metaphorically the worst 'poisons' are desire, hatred and ignorance. Various forms of Garuda are found in both the Nyingma and Sarma traditions. The Chakrasamvara and Kalachakra Tantras of the Sarma tradition are the main sources for the various lineages of practice.

Jeff Watt 6-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Buddhist & Hindu Deity: Garuda Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Garuda, Black
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