Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Simhamukha (Buddhist Deity) - (Bari Lineage)

སེང་གདོང་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 狮面空行佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 65862)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Animal-Feature

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Simhamukha, Dakini (Tibetan: seng ge dong chen kha dro ma, English: the Dakini Having a Lion Face) along with two attendants; from the lineage of Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag (11th century). (See Simhamukha Outline Page).

With a body dark blue in colour, she has one face - that of a white lion, three red round eyes blazing fiercely with a gaping mouth, a beard, eyebrows and hair flowing upward. The right hand holds aloft a curved knife to the sky, left a skullcup of blood to the heart, carrying a khatvanga staff - topped with a trident - in the bend of the elbow. Adorned with a tiara of five skulls, a silk scarf and bone ornaments, she wears a tiger skin skirt. Trampling on a corpse with the left foot, above a sun disc and lotus blossom, she stands with the right leg drawn up, in a mood of great fierceness dwelling in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness.

At the bottom left is Vyaghramukha 'Tiger Faced' dakini in the same appearance as the central figure except wearing a leopard skin skirt. At the right is Rikshamukha, 'Bear Faced' dakini, in the same appearance as the central figure.

At the top center is Padmasambhava with the meditational deity Hayagriva 'Secret Accomplishment' at the viewer's left and the Nyingma 'Revealed Treasure' meditational deity Guru Dragpo on the right side.

At the bottom center is Shri Lakshmi (Pal Lhamo) the peaceful manifestation of the wisdom protector deity Shri Devi with four arms (Palden Lhamo). At the bottom right is Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo with two arms, the wrathful manifestation of Sarasvati. At the bottom left is the worldly protector Shangpa Karpo.

The dakini Simhamukha is a meditational deity arising out of the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras and belongs to the Anuttarayoga 'wisdom' classification. The Sarma tradition Simhamukha is unrelated to the deity of the same name and appearance in the Nyingma 'terma' (treasure) traditions. In that tradition, of the many forms of Padmasambhava, Simhamukha is a secret form of Guru Rinpoche.

Gelugpa Lineage: Vajradhara, Dakini Simhamukha, Vajrasana, Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158) and the five Holy Superiors of Sakya, Rongpa Dorje Gyaltsen, Sanggye Yeshe, Yag De Panchen, Gyalwa Tsongkapa (1357-1419), etc.

"...the wisdom Dakini Simhamukha, with a body blue-black in colour, one face, two hands; three eyes, red, round and glaring; bared fangs and a curled tongue. The right hand holds aloft to the sky a curved-knife marked with a vajra. The left a blood filled skullcup to the heart, carrying a three-pointed khatvanga staff in the bend of the left elbow. Orange hair, eyebrows and beard flowing upwards, with five dry human heads as a crown and fifty wet, blood dripping, as a necklace. With five bone ornaments and a tiger skin as a lower garment; standing on the left leg with the right drawn-up, in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness." [sGrub Thabs Kun bTus, vol.8, folios 288-290. Translated in 1989].

Jeff Watt 3-2010

Secondary Images
Related Items
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Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha Religious Context
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 4
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Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha (3 Deity)