Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Yamari, Krishna (Buddhist Deity) - Drigung Tradition

གཤིན་རྗེ་གཤེད་ནག། ནག་པོ། 黑威罗瓦金刚
(item no. 79)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma and Drigung (Kagyu)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.3.7
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Manjushri Yamari (Tibetan: jam pal shin je. English: Glorious Melodious Speech, Enemy of Death). A special teaching of the Drigung Kagyu School descending from the Revealed Treasure (terma) lineage of Nub Sanggye Yeshe of the Nyingma Tradition.

"Manjushri Yamari, with three faces, black, white and dark red. Having six hands, the three right hold a wheel, sword and vajra, the left a hook, pestle and wrathful gesture. Possessing the nine sentiments of dance and complete with the eight articles of the charnel grounds. Having four legs, the left are extended, standing in the middle of the [fire] of pristine awareness." (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje (1646-1714) and Min-ling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang page 232).

Lineage: Tsedag Nonpo Necho, Shinje She, Dorje Nonpo, Jampal Shenyen, Shantigarbha, Yeshe Nyingpo, Khagarbha, Dragtung Nagpo, Tsuglag Palge, Orgyan Chenpo, Bhasudhara, Nub Chen, Gyashang Trom, Nub Chung, Tsurton Rin-dor, Kushang Palden, Tsultrim Rinchen, Jangchub Gon, Namka?i Tsenchen, Rigdzin Tsultrim, Gyaton Bonpo, Drigungpa Ratna, Chogyal Puntsog, Chokyi Drag, Konchog Lhundrup, etc. (Tibetan source text page 9).

Detailed Description: Black and fearsome with three faces, six hands and four legs, the right face is white and left red. Glaring with bulging red eyes and grimacing with gaping mouths, the yellow eyebrows, beard and moustache flow upward like flame. The six hands are outstretched to the sides holding in the right a gold vajra, sword and eight-pointed weapon wheel. With the left hands, the first performs a wrathful gesture; the second two hold a pestle and vajra hook. Crowns of five skulls adorn the heads, bone ornaments and the like, a choker of skulls, snake necklace and freshly severed heads. The shoulders are draped with an elephant hide, a human skin is tied about the waist and the lower body wrapped with a tiger skin. The four legs stand upon a sun disc, lotus seat and the prone forms of raging bulls and human figures docile beneath; completely encircled by the flames of pristine awareness with a black Garuda at the peak.

Four attendant wrathful deities surround the central figure. At the middle left, wearing a human and tiger skin, a deity holds aloft a knife in the right hand and devours a heart with the left. Below, a deity holds in the right hand a representation of mount sumeru and a vajra axe upraised in the left. Wearing an elephant hide, human and tiger skins, he rides atop a snarling buffalo. At the middle right a wizened female deity holds aloft a vajra hook with the right hand and a skullcup to the heart with the left, attired in a leopard skin lower garment. At the bottom right with writhing snakes for hair, a deity holds a staff of sandalwood in the right hand, and a lasso in the left; wearing various skins. At the bottom center a protector deity, with one face and two hands, holds aloft a stick mounted with a white skull. The left hand is placed at the heart in a wrathful gesture and holds a lasso. Very fearsome, adorned with all the wrathful vestments, wearing an elephant hide, human and tiger skins, with the right leg bent and left straight, he stands above a lotus seat encircled by the flames of wisdom fire.

At the top center is the bodhisattva of wisdom Manjushri, yellow in colour, performing the Dharma teaching mudra while holding the stems of two utpala flowers supporting the wisdom sword and book. At the sides are white Avalokiteshvara and blue Vajrapani, both peaceful in appearance and holding their respective signature objects. At the far right is Padmasambhava with the hands placed in the lap, wearing a lotus hat, and supporting a katvanga staff against the left shoulder. Arranged along the top are the early lineage teachers and personal teachers of Nub Sanggye Yeshe (9th century) such as Shantigarbha, the Indian Trag Thung Nagpo and the Nepali Vasudhara. Descending on the right and left are the early Nyingma and later Drigungpa lineage teachers.

At the bottom center a low table covered with a fresh human skin supports five skullcups filled with offerings. The upper two hold nectar and blood and the lower three, supported on three skull hearth stones, offer wrathful substances and torma (stylized food). At the left is a yogin with the headdress of a mahasiddha, white cotton robe and red meditation belt, holding a curved knife in the lap and a skullcup to the heart, a katvanga staff rests against the left shoulder. Seated on a cushion in a relaxed fashion, the legs are loosely crossed.

Finely executed on a black background the style of painting is 'nag thang' - 'black scroll.' Drawn in outline with fine lines colour is added to the black surface creating depth and contrast.

Jeff Watt 4-99

Related Items
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images

Thematic Sets
Subject: Lineage (Single Composition)
Buddhist Deity: Yamari, Krishna
Tradition: Drigung Kagyu Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Yamari, Krishna (Drigung Tradition)
Buddhist Deity: Yamari, Krishna (Three Faces: Terma)
Tradition: Kagyu Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Tradition: Nyingma Deity Paintings
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page