Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Hayagriva (Buddhist Deity) - Black

རྟ་མགྲིན། ནང་ལྷ། 马头明王(佛教本尊)
(item no. 65036)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Kagyu
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc. #C2002.2.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Black Hayagriva (Tibetan: tam drin. English: the Black Horse Necked One): from the Revealed Treasure Tradition of Guru Chowang (1212-1273). (See a comparison with another Black Hayagriva painting).

"...on a great blazing mandala of a blue-black dharmakara (or dharmadayo), lotus and sun seat, is the King of the Wrathful, Hayagriva, with a very fierce body blue-black in colour. With one face, two hands and three eyes, the face is radiant with bared fangs, blazing orange beard and mustache. A green horse head on the crown neighs - gathering the power of the Three Realms. The right hand holds a sword aloft severing the heads and bodies of enemies into pieces. The left holds a hook to conduct the life force of enemies and hindrances and from the tip of the wrathful gesture an iron scorpion emanates and comes forth. In a manner of play with the left extended the two feet are supported by enemies and hindrances. The body is dressed in a great cloak of black silk and a human hide with a lower garment of tiger skin. Having a crown of five dry skulls and a necklace of fifty wet, snake coils of the five naga races, complete with the eight glorious articles. Above the horse head [on the crown] is a garuda of fire with beak and talons of iron, subduing daemons, nagas and planets, standing in a vast blazing heap of fire. On the right is the Glorious Blazing Yaksha, red, holding a fire hammer and a lasso. On the left is the Iron Hair Yaksha, having the form of a yellow-black Kirata, holding an iron vajra and hook. In front is the emanation of the assistant, the Iron Scorpion, black, with nine mouths and nine eyes, raging with poison..." (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje (1646-1714) and Min-ling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang, Part I, pp.269-270).

Wrathful in appearance, blue in colour, with one face and two hands he has three eyes, a gaping mouth and dark hair flowing upward. On the top of the head is a green horse, head with an orange mane - facing to the left. The right hand holds aloft a vajra-handled sword and the left held to the breast clutches a vajra hook. Adorned with a crown of five skulls, gold and jewel earrings, necklaces and the like, a garland of fifty fresh heads, he wears a long cloak of various colours, an outer garment of an elephant hide and a tiger skin wrapped about the waist. With the right leg bent and left straight atop two prone figures of enemies and obstacles, a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus, surrounded by the bright orange-red flames of pristine awareness. An orange Garuda, biting down on a snake, soars at the peak. At the bottom center is a large black scorpion.

The figures in the top register do not constitute a teaching lineage but rather depict three buddhas along with Avalokiteshvara followed by Padmasambhava and seven mahasiddhas. The siddhas are likely meant to be a selection of figures grouped together as a version of the Eight Great Mahasiddhas. Other paintings associated with the Karma Kagyu Tradition have similar groupings which include Padmasambhava and Virupa.

Numbered List:
1. Vajradhara
2. Amitayus Buddha
3. Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara
4. Amitabha Buddha
5. Padmasambhava
6. Nagarjuna
7. Indrabhuti
8. Saraha
9. Ghantapa
10. Virupa
11. Dombhi Heruka
12. Kukkuripa
13. Teacher
14. Karmapa
15. Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja
16. Kalachakra
17. Vajrabhairava
18. Chakrasamvara
19. Rakta Yamari or Hayagriva
20. Hevajra
21. Hayagriva
22. Hayagriva (?)
23. Hayagriva
24. Vajravarahi
25. Donor Figure
26. Manjushri
27. Krodha Vajrapani
28. Vaishravana Riding a Lion
29. Black Scorpion
30. Yellow Jambhala
31. Black-cloak Mahakala (Bernagchen)
32. Shri Devi Dudsolma
33. Damchen Garwa Nagpo

Jeff Watt 3-2005 [updated 11-2011]

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Painting Masterworks)
Tradition: Kagyu Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Main Page
Subject: Protector Deities, Tibetan (Prior to 17th Century)
Collection of RMA: Painting Masterworks Page
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Early Works)
Buddhist Deity: Hayagriva (Black)