Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Achala (Buddhist Deity) - Blue, Kneeling

མི་གཡོ་བ། 不动明王(梵名:阿遮罗)
(item no. 99102)
Origin Location China
Date Range 1200 - 1299
Lineages Sakya and Buddhist
Material Ground: Textile Image, Kesi
Collection Private
Catalogue # Tibet Museum, Lhasa
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Achala, Krodharaja (English: the Immovable One, King of the Wrathful. Tibetan: mi yo wa).

Very wrathful, blue in colour, with one face, three eyes, hair flowing upward and two hands, he holds aloft the flaming sword of wisdom in the right hand. With the left placed at the heart in a wrathful gesture he holds a vajra lasso. Adorned with a crown of skulls and gold and jewel ornaments, earrings and necklaces he wears a scarf of silk and a lower garment of tiger skin. Kneeling with the left knee pressed down and the right raised he dwells upon a sun and lotus seat as if about to stand, completely surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness.

"...Lord Achala. The body is blue in colour, one face, two hands, the right brandishing to the sky a sword fiercely flaming with a mass of wisdom fire. And the left at the heart, in a wrathful gesture, holds a vajra lasso wound [around the index finger] with the ends hovering above the shoulder. With bared fangs, biting down on the lower lip, possessing three eyes, the right gazes upward completely eliminating heavenly daemons. The left gazes down, destroying nagas, spirits of disease and earth lords. The middle gazes forward completely eliminating all types of obstacles. Wearing a white snake as a necklace, gathering the power of nagas, spirits of disease and earth lords; with black hair, tied in a black tuft on the crown of the head; with jewel ornaments and various silks as a lower garment. The heel of the right foot and the left knee are pressing down on the seat in a manner of rising; dwelling in the center of a flaming mass of pristine awareness fire." (From a Tibetan text written by Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrup, 1497-1557. See Sanskrit source texts).

Krodharaja Achala is found in the Siddhaikavira Tantra, commonly known as the White Manjushri Tantra of the Kriya classification. It is from here that he takes on his role as a remover of obstacles and the special protector for the practices of Manjushri. In Anuttarayoga, Achala is also known as Chandamaharoshana from the tantra of the same name, and has the same appearance with an added consort and nine-deity mandala. The Kriya Tantra practice of Achala was popularized by Lord Atisha (982-1054), the founder of the Kadampa School, and also by Lobpon Sonam Tsemo of Sakya (1142-1182).

"The general treasurer of Zhalu made arrangements for performing the auspice ceremony of longevity for me with gifts that included the woven image of Miyowa, which was once the spiritual relic of Phagpa Rinpoche." (The passage was written in 1664. The Illusive Play, the Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Chapter 38, page 479-480. Translated by Samten G. Karmay. Serindia Publications, 2014).

Jeff Watt 6-2005


This tangka has been so finely crafted that it is not immediately apparent that it is a woven textile and not a painting. Xixia or Tangut weavers were the masters of the slit silk technique. The term describes the turn of a weft thread around a warp thread to continue building a pattern in the same color. At each point where colors meet, a small slit occurs if the pattern boundary is vertical. The central figure, the Immovable One, is a meditational deity that was very popular in the Himalayan regions between the 11th and 14th centuries. Jenghis Khan destroyed the Xixia Kingdom that created this masterful work of art in 1226/1227. However, according to Tibetan popular culture, it is said that survivors of the genocide migrated to a region of Tibet known as Minyak where descendants still exist today.

An accurate date for this tangka is established by a line of Tibetan inscription along the bottom that mentions the name of both the donor and the person to whom the tangka it was given. (Text courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art, June 2005).

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World

Publications
Publication: Bod kyi thangka

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Achala (Kneeling)
Painting Style: Yuan Period Art, Araniko School
Textile: Types & Topics Main Page
Collection Index: Publications Page
Buddhist Deity: Achala Masterworks (Painting)
Buddhist Deity: Achala (Kneeling) Page
Textile: Masterworks
Textile: Woven Artwork Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Achala Main Page