Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrayogini (Buddhist Deity) - (Naropa Tradition)

རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 金刚瑜伽佛母(全图)
(item no. 61)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Kagyu and Drukpa (Kagyu)
Size 33.02x22.86cm (13x9in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.3.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Vajrayogini, Naro Khechari (Tibetan: dor je nal jor ma, na ro kha cho). An inscription on the back states that the painting was blessed by Chokyi Nangwa. It is quite likely that this refers to Kunzing Chokyi Nangwa (1768-1822) the 8th Drugchen of the Drugpa Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, also an artist.

Sanskrit: Vajrayogini Tibetan: Dor je nal jor ma

Red in colour with one face, three eyes and two hands the left holds aloft a white skullcup from which she drinks and on the shoulder rests a very detailed vajra tipped katvanga staff. The right hand is extended downward holding a curved knife with a gold vajra handle. Adorned with a tiara of skulls, various bone ornaments, girdle, bracelets and a necklace of freshly severed heads - each with a different expression she stands atop the bodies of pink Kalaratri and black Bhairava. Above an ornate sun disc and pink lotus seat she stands completely surrounded by the multi-coloured flames of pristine awareness.

At the top center is the primordial buddha Vajradhara, blue in colour, with the two hands crossed at the heart holding a vajra and bell, in a seated posture. At the left is the Indian mahasiddha Tilopa, holding a skullcup in the right hand and a fish upraised in the left. At the right side is a seated Tibetan yogi wearing a white cotton upper robe and a yellow meditation belt. Holding a skullcup in the left hand he is seated on a deer skin.

At the bottom left is the wrathful deity Humkara, blue, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup, standing atop a corpse. Very fierce, he is adorned with all the wrathful vestments, an elephant skin upper garment and a tiger skin below. On the right is Yu Dronma (Turquoise Lamp), a female deity of Tibetan origin and one of the 'Tanma Chunyi,' with one face, three eyes and two hands holding what appears to be a large drum (usually a mirror) in the right hand and a stick in the left. Richly attired in variously coloured garments she sits on a moon disc above a lotus. The names of these last two figures are printed with fine gold lettering below each lotus seat.

Vajrayogini belongs to the 'wisdom class' of Anuttarayoga Tantra and arises specifically from the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras. When Vajrayogini is portrayed in this appearance with the left hand raised and the two feet firmly planted she is commonly referred to as the Naro Khachodma however this does not always mean she is from the special Naropa lineage of the Sakyapa tradition. This painting is Kagyu in origin based on the grouping of figures at the top. The iconography of Naro Kacho with a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads is generally indicative of the Naropa tradition as passed down through the Kagyu founder Marpa Chokyi Lodro. The Sakyas depict Vajrayogini with a necklace of fifty dry skulls. The style of painting is Eastern Tibetan.

Lineage: Vajradharma, Vajrayogini, Mahasiddha Ghantapada, Tengipa, Antarapa, Tilopa, Naropa, etc.

Jeff Watt 7-1998 [update 6-2009]

Front of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: hum mdzad. gyu sgron ma.

Reverse of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: bcu gnyis dag pa'i sa yi dbang phug tu. mngon 'phags sdul bral shes rab ye shes cha. bde mchog bde ster bcom ldan snang mzad las. gsung gsum byin gyis rtag tu dge bar lzod. ches chos kyi snang bas brjod. manga lam.

Special Features: (Cursive script (Umay))

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Female Buddhas at RMA

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini (Main Figure)
Buddhist Deity: Deities (Female)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Khechara (Naropa Tradition)
Glossary: Vajrayogini/Varahi
Artist: Kunzig Chokyi Nangwa
Subject: Name Inscription - Misidentified or Name Added
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Khechara (Naropa Tradition, Kagyu)
Subject: Drums in Art Main Page
Subject: Dakini (Meditational Deities, Buddhist)
Subject: Artist Index
Subject: Dakini (Popular Deities)
Collection of RMA: Historically Important Works
Painting Style: Minimalism & Minimalist Landscape
Painting Style: Minimalist (Drugpa Kagyu, Lhatog)
Tradition: Kagyu Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Khechara Religious Context