Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Chaturbhuja (Four-hands)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 634)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Kagyu
Size 43.82x46.99cm (17.25x18.50in)
Material Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.1.10
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Summary: This form of Mahakala can be either a protector deity (dharmapala) or a meditational deity (ishtadevata).

Interpretation / Description

Chaturbhuja Vajra Mahakala (Tibetan: dor je nag po chen po, chag shi pa. English: The Great Vajra Black One with Four Hands), the protector for the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras.

Sanskrit: Chaturbhuja Tibetan: Chag shi pa

With one face and four hands, he is extremely wrathful in appearance. The first pair of hands hold a curved knife and a skullcup filled with blood. The second right hand holds upraised a sword blazing with wisdom fire and in the left a katvanga staff topped with a trident. Orange hair flows upward as he stares with glaring red eyes and a wide gaping mouth. Adorned with the bone, gold and jewel ornaments of a wrathful deity he wears a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads. Seated in the relaxed 'vira' (hero) posture on a multi-coloured lotus seat, he is completely surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

At the top center is the meditational deity Chakrasamvara in Sahaja heruka form with one face and two hands embracing the consort. At the right and left are two seated teachers of the Kagyu Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

At the bottom center is a white skullcup filled with the offering of the five human senses; eyes, ears, nose, heart and tongue.

Jeff Watt 3-2001

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Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Main Page
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands Main Page
Mahakala (Kagyu)
Mahakala - Chaturbhuja (Single Form)