Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Simhamukha (Buddhist Deity) - Red

སེང་གདོང་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 狮面空行佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 784)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Nyingma
Size 78.11x55.25cm (30.75x21.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1998.4.9
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: Lion Faced Dakini) surrounded by teachers above, attendant retinue deities at the sides and protectors below.

With a body maroon of colour, the face is that of a lion, with three round eyes, blazing fiercely with a gaping mouth, and yellow hair flowing upward. The right hand holds upraised a curved knife to the sky, left a skullcup of blood to the mouth, carrying a khatvanga staff in the bend of the elbow supported against the shoulder. Adorned with a tiara of five skulls, green scarf, elephant skin, bone ornaments, fifty freshly severed heads as a necklace, she wears a tiger skin skirt. Standing on the left leg with the right drawn up, trampling on a corpse, sun and lotus seat, Simhamukha in a mood of great fierceness dwells in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness. Numerous lion-faced retinue figures surround the central deity.

At the top center is the primordial Buddha Samantrabhadra embracing the white consort Samantabhadri. Various teachers and yogis are seated at the sides. At the lower left is Dorje Yudronma, peaceful in appearance, holding an arrow in the left hand and surrounded by 4 attendant figures. At the lower right is the horrific worldly protector Rahula with nine heads and the lower torso of a snake. Along the bottom are four protectors; Dorje Legpa, Ekajati, a blue female figure holding aloft a sword in the right hand and a heart to the mouth in the left, followed on the right by Palden Lhamo riding a mule.

"Arising from the state of the dharmadhatu, Mother of all conquerors, Queen of all the countless dakinis; With magic powers smashing to dust hindrances and enemies. Homage to Simhamukha." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

Within the Nyingma School, of the two divisions of Kama (Oral Teachings) and Terma (Revealed Treasures), Simhamukha belongs to the Terma. From the three general divisions of Terma: Root, Branch and Essence, Simhamukha belongs to the Dakini Cycle within the Root Terma class. Generally she is regarded as the secret form of Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava. In the Sarma Tradition the deity Simhamukha is found in the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras and although similar in name and appearance is unrelated.

Jeff Watt 3-2002

Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Female Buddhas at Bruce Museum of Art

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Deities (Female)
Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha (5 Deity, Red)
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 8
Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha Main Page