Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Garuda - Black

ཁྱུང་། བོན་ལྷ། 大鹏(苯教本尊)
(item no. 616)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Size 56.52x36.83cm (22.25x14.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.5.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Animal-Feature

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Garuda, Black (Tibetan: khyung nag po); an enlightened deity for removing afflictions caused by nagas and earth spirits.

Tibetan: Khyung

Slightly fierce, with one face in the form of an eagle, round eyes and a curved beak, he has two horns, upward flowing yellow hair and a green jewel snatched from the nagas adorning the crown of the head. The two hands hold outstretched a writhing snake gripped with the beak. Adorned with gold necklaces and bracelets, the lower body is covered with feathers and large wings are unfurled behind. Standing on legs of two talons above wisps of fire and a coiled snake, atop a sun disc and lotus seat, he is surrounded by orange and red wisps of twisting flames of pristine awareness.

At the top center is a lama holding a vajra to the heart with the right hand and a bell held in the left hand in the mudra of meditation. Wearing an orange pandita hat with red and orange monastic robes, he sits on a cushioned seat with a large blue backrest adorned with a white scarf. At the left is a black Garuda soaring downwards through the air biting down on a writhing snake. At the right is another Garuda soaring sideways with a flaccid snake. At the bottom center is a worldly protector dressed as a Tibetan warrior holding a spear with a red tassel upraised in the right hand and an object in the left held to the side. The head is covered with a red hat with a white rim various long flowing robes and a bow and arrow in a leopard skin pouch worn on the side. Seated atop a black horse, he is surrounded by dark swirling smoke. At the left is the wealth deity and protector, the Guardian of the Northern Direction, Vaishravana, with one face and two hands the right holds aloft a victory banner and the left a mongoose at the side. Seated in a relaxed posture, he rides atop a white snow lion. At the right side a lay lama with long hair and covered in orange and red garments holds the right hand at the heart in the mudra of blessing and the left holds a gold vase in the lap. In a relaxed posture with the left leg extended he sits on a cushion seat with a large backrest, the head surrounded by a large white areola.

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 from earth spirits. 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 divergent lineages of practice.

Jeff Watt 9-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery III
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Subject: Animal Headed/Features Gods & Deities (Buddhist)
Buddhist & Hindu Deity: Garuda Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Garuda, Black