Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Kurukulla (Buddhist Deity)

ཀུ་རུ་ཀུ་ལེ། ནང་ལྷ། 作明佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 765)
Origin Location Western Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya
Size 21.59x17.78cm (8.50x7in)
Material Ground: Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1998.25.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Kurukulle (Tibetan: rig che ma, English: The One of the Action Family): Goddess of Power.

Red in colour with one face, two eyes, black hair curling to the sides and four hands, she has a slightly fierce expression with a gaping mouth and bared fangs. In the first pair of hands are a bow and arrow aimed to the left. The second hold a hook in the right and a lasso with gold vajra tips in the left. A small form of the buddha Amitabha sits on the crown of the head. Adorned with a tiara of five white skulls, earrings, bracelets and a necklace of fifty heads each tied by the hair, she wears a blue scarf and tiger skin skirt bound with a white sash. The right leg is drawn up in a dancing posture and the left foot presses on a red utpala flower, partially open, atop a corpse above a sun disc and lotus seat. She is completely surrounded by the red jagged flames of pristine awareness against a dark blue background.

"Culmination of the pristine awareness and compassion of all conquerors,
Well arising as the bliss-emptiness - Goddess of Power,
Controlling all beings of the three realms with a charming form;
Homage to the Dakini." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

There are numerous forms and lineages of Kurukulle arising from the Kriya and Anuttarayoga classes of tantra of the Sarma traditions and many forms from the 'Terma' (Revealed Treasure) traditions of the Nyingmapa School. In the Kriya tantras she is often portrayed, but not exclusively, as a red power emanation of Tara. However, most forms of red Tara are not Kurukulle. In Anuttarayoga, from the Shri Hevajra and Vajrapanjara Tantras, she is a power emanation of Shri Hevajra.

Jeff Watt 1-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Painting Style: Western Tibetan
Buddhist Deity: Kurukulla Main Page
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Subject: Deity Colours - Red (Powerful Activities)