Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Panjarnata (Lord of the Pavilion)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 642)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Sakya
Size 33.02x24.77cm (13x9.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.11.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:W25327

Interpretation / Description

Panjarnata Vajra Mahakala (Tibetan: dor je nag po chen po, gur gyi gon po, English: The Great Vajra Black One - Lord of the Pavilion).

"The great Vajra Mahakala blazes, with one face, two hands, holding in the right a curved knife and in the left a skullcup filled with blood held above and below the heart. Held across the middle of the two forearms is the 'Gandhi of Emanation.' With three eyes, bared fangs, yellow hair flowing upward, [he has] a crown of five dry human skulls and a necklace of fifty wet - blood dripping. Adorned with six bone ornaments and snakes, having a lower garment of tiger skin, flowing with pendants and streamers of various silks, in a posture dwarfish and thick [he] stands above a corpse." (Konchog Lhundrup 1497-1557).

Above a multi-coloured lotus, Mahakala is surrounded by the stylized flames of pristine awareness and emanating forth from the licks of flame are messengers in the shapes of various animals, black crows, black dogs, wolves, black men and women.

To the upper left of Mahakala is the tutelary deity Shri Hevajra, light blue in colour with multiple faces and hands embracing the consort Vajra Nairatmya. To the upper right is Ekajati, the mother of all Mahakalas, blue with one face and two hands holding a vase. To the lower left is Kartaridhara Mahakala with one face and two hands. To the right is Mahakali, light blue, with one face and four hands riding a brown mule.

At the top left is the primordial buddha Vajradhara followed by the three laymen known as the 'Three White Ones of Sakya;' Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182) and Trakpa Gyaltsen (1147-1216). The 'Two Red Ones' attired in monastic robes are Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182-1251) and Chogyal Pagpa (1235-1280). Collectively they are called the 'Five Holy Superiors' (Tib.: jet sun gong ma nga).

Along the bottom are the Five Activity Lords, the main attendants to Mahakala, each with one face and two hands, wrathful and dark blue in colour; accompanied by a monk and a sorcerer representing the hosts of the lesser retinue.

Panjarnata Mahakala is the main protector of the Sakya School. Arising from the Vajrapanjara Tantra, he along with Brahmarupa Mahakala, associated with the Guhyasamaja Tantra, are known as the 'Greater and Lesser Mahakalas' of the Sakya School (Tib.: gon po che chung).

Panjarnata Eight Deity Lineage: Vajradhara, Dakini Vajrapanjara, Acarya Brahmin Vararuci, Norbu Lingka Dewa'i Dorje, Shraddhakara Varman, Lochen Rinchen Zangpo, Drag Tengpa Yontan Tsultrim, Mal Lotsawa Lodro Dragpa, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, etc.

The style of painting is Southern Tibetan with strong Nepali influence indicated by the geometric layout, deep blue and red colours and ornate detail.

Numbered List:
1. Vajradhara
2. Sachen Kunga Nyingpo
3. Sonam Tsemo
4. Dragpa Gyaltsen
5. Sakya Pandita
6. Chogyal Pagpa
7. Shri Hevajra
8. Ekajati
9. Kartridhara Mahakala
10. Shri Devi
11. Kala Rakshasa
12. Kala Rakshasi
13. Putra
14. Batra
15. Singmo
16. Bhikshu
17. Black Woman
18. Sorcerer
19. Warrior

J.Watt 7-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Mahakala: Panjarnata, Lord of the Pavilion (Early Paintings)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Main Page
Painting Style: Tibet (Balri)
Mahakala: Panjarnata, Lord of the Pavilion (Main Page)
Collection of RMA: Best of Collection 2
Mahakala: Panjarnata, Eight Deity
Subject: Greyscale - Figurative & General Composition
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mahakala, Early Paintings