Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Shadbhuja (Six-hands, Shangpa)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 65165)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Buddhist
Size 81.92x62.87cm (32.25x24.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc. #C2002.34.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shadbhuja Mahakala (Tibetan: pal nyur dze ye she kyi gon po chag drug pa. English: the Swift Acting Lord of Pristine Awareness with Six Hands). The wrathful manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara after having taken on the form of Mahakala - the principal protector of the Shangpa Kagyu and Gelugpa Schools. Five attendant deities surround the central figure.

Fearsome and wrathful, blue-black in colour with one face and six hands, held in the first pair is a curved knife and skullcup to the heart. In the second pair is a human skull garland and trident - holding upraised the legs of an elephant skin garment. Held in the lower pair is a damaru (drum) and lasso. Adorned with all the wrathful ornaments and vestments he stands on the prone form of the elephant headed god Ganesh, above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus, surrounded by the orange flames of pristine awareness.

Numbered List:
Central Figure: Shadbhuja Mahakala
1.
2. Shri Devi
3. Kshetrapala
4.
5.
6. Deity (?)
7. Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara
8. Tibetan Lama
9. Tibetan Lama
10. Vajradhara
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27. Vajrasattva
28. Manjushri
29. Amitayus
30. Sita Shadbhuja Mahakala
31. Shadbhuja Mahakala (Sangdrub Chingka)
32. Hayagriva
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43. Virudhaka
44. Vaishravana
45. Virupaksha
46. Dhritarashtra
47. Yellow Jambhala
48. Yellow Vasudhara
49. Black Jambhala
50. Vaishravana Riding a Lion
51. Donor Figure

Jeff Watt 5-2003

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Mahakala: Shadbhuja [Shangpa] Page (Six-hands)
Mahakala: Shadbhuja (Early Paintings) Page
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Main Page (Gallery 1)
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara (Non-standard Forms)
Mahakala: Shadbhuja (Painting Masterworks)