Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mahakala (Buddhist Protector) - Chaturbhuja (Four-hands)

མ་ཧཱ་ཀཱ་ལ། ནག་པོ་ཆེན་པོ། 玛哈嘎拉
(item no. 969)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Uncertain
Size 48.26x36.20cm (19x14.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P2000.12.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Summary: This form of Mahakala can be either a protector deity (dharmapala) or a meditational deity (ishtadevata).

Interpretation / Description

Chaturbhuja Mahakala (Tibetan: gon po chag shi pa. English: the Great Lord with Four Hands): wrathful enlightened protector of Buddhism.

Sanskrit: Chaturbhuja Tibetan: Chag shi pa

"From a red-black mandala of fire, above a lotus, sun, moon and corpse, with one face and four hands, seated in a relaxed posture: homage to the Great Black One." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

As a wrathful form of enlightenment, a wisdom deity and buddha, he appears as a protector for Vajrayana Buddhism. There are many forms of this particular Mahakala in both Nyingma and Sarma traditions. The pandita and mahasiddha Nagarjuna originally popularized the practice. In the Sarma Schools Chaturbhuja is strongly related to the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras.

Jeff Watt 11-2000

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 9
Buddhist Protector: Mahakala Main Page
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands (Betapala)
Mahakala: Chaturbhuja, Four-hands Main Page
Mahakala (Kagyu)
Mahakala - Chaturbhuja (Single Form)