Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Simhamukha (Buddhist Deity) - Red

སེང་གདོང་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 狮面空行佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 635)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 33.66x45.09cm (13.25x17.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.4.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Animal-Feature

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Red Simhamukha (Tibetan: seng ge dong ma chen mar mo, English: the Red Lion Faced One) of the Terma Tradition with a retinue of four deities.

Extremely fierce and completely red in colour she has the face of a lion, with three round eyes, gazing fiercely with a gaping mouth, orange beard and hair flowing upward. With two hands the right holds aloft a vajra handled curved knife to the sky, left a white skullcup of blood to the heart, cradling a khatvanga staff tipped with a trident against the left shoulder. Wearing a tiara of five skulls, a dark orange scarf, elephant hide, bone ornaments, fifty severed heads as a necklace and a tiger skin skirt she stands on the left leg with the right drawn up in a dancing posture above a corpse, sun disc and orange lotus seat. Simhamukha dwells in the middle of a blazing orange fire of pristine awareness.

At the top center is the Guru Padmasambhava with the right hand holding a vajra to the heart and the left supporting a skullcup in the lap. A khatvanga staff leans against the left shoulder. Wearing various robes and a lotus hat he sits on a moon disc and lotus seat within a sphere of radiating light.

To the upper left and right are yellow and orange Simhamukha respectively, otherwise identical to the central figure. At the lower left and right are a further two in a white and green form. The five variously coloured forms reflect the five buddha families and the various types of activities. At the bottom center is a protector deity with one face and two hands embracing a consort and mounted on a snow lion. This quite possibly is the guardian of the Terma (Revealed Treasure) text from which this form of Simhamukha arises.

"Arising from the state of the dharmadhatu, Mother of all conquerors, Queen of all the numberless dakinis; With magic powers smashing to dust hindrances and enemies. Homage to Simhamukha." (Nyingma liturgical text).

Within the Nyingmapa School, of the two divisions of Kama (oral teachings) and Terma, Simhamukha belongs to the Terma. From the three general divisions of Terma: Root, Branch and Essence, Simhamukha belongs to the Dakini Cycle within the Root Terma class. Generally she is regarded as the secret form of Guru Padmasambhava. In the Sarma Tradition the deity Simhamukha is associated with the Chkrasamvara Cycle of Tantras and although similar in name and appearance is unrelated.

Jeff Watt 7-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Deities (Female)
Subject: Over-conservation & Restoration Page
Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha (5 Deity, Red)