Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Wrathful Appearance Page

Eleven Figurative Forms

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Wrathful Ornaments
- Wrathful Offerings
- Heruka (Nyingma Meditational Deity Wrathful Appearance)
- Wrathful Deities & Function
- Iconography List (Wrathful Appearance)
- Eleven Types of Deities
- Iconography Main Page
- Confusions
- Others...

Wrathful Appearance in Buddhist art is modeled after a raksha demon from the island of Lanka as described in the Ramayana and other early Indian literature. The body of a raksha is short and squat, the face angry with large bulging bloodshot eyes, a mouth gaping with a lolling tongue, and large canine teeth bared. The hair is bristling upwards and the body is adorned with skulls, bone ornaments, snakes and animal skins, completely surrounded by the massive flames of wisdom fire. Some deities that are typically thought of as peaceful in appearance can also have wrathful forms, such as, Manjushri, Lokeshvara, Tara and Marichi. Not all of the possibilities of wrathful figures have been list above.

The most famous of wrathful figures and the generic model of wrathful deities used in art for all wrathful forms is Krodha Vajrapani.

In some systems of Tibetan Buddhism animal-featured deities, or rather wrathful deities that have an animal head, are sometimes classified under wrathful appearance.

Jeff 6-2015 [updated 5-2017, 12-2019]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).