Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Mahamaya Iconography

Mahamaya Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Outline Page
- Principal Deity
- Heruka (solitary)
- Heruka (with consort)
- Four Faces, Four Arms, with Consort (right leg down)
- Four Faces, Four Arms, with Consort (left leg down)
- Mandala (Five Deity)
- Gyu De Lha Nga
- Meditational Deities Page
- Confusions: Buddhakapala
- Others...

Variations & Irregularities:
- With/without Consort
- Colour of Consort (red/blue)
- Standing Legs (right/left)

Principal Lineages:
- Abhayakara Gupta (Vajravali)
- Mitra Yogin (Mitra Gyatsa)
- Marpa Lotsawa

Mahamaya, a male deity, with a semi-peaceful/wrathful appearance, has four faces and four arms, blue in colour, embracing the consort Buddha Dakini. The consort also appears with four faces and four arms. Both figures hold an arrow, bow, skullcup and katvanga staff. In the Shangpa Kagyu, Vajravali and Mitra Gyatsa traditions the consort can also be depicted as red in colour. In the Mitra Gyatsa there is a one faced two-armed form of Mahamaya with consort. In all of these different traditions the central deity and consort are accompanied by four Dakinis, Surrounding the principal couple are four female figures, blue Vajra Dakini, yellow Ratna Dakini, red Padma Dakini and green Vishva Dakini, hence the name Mahamaya Five Deity Mandala.

"Mahamaya, blue, with four faces, blue, yellow, red, green. The first two hands hold a skullcup and katvanga staff while embracing the consort. The lower two [hands] hold an arrow and bow. Standing with the left leg drawn up in a half posture dancing manner. Wearing a human skin upper garment. The consort, Buddha Dakini, is red, the same [in appearance], embracing, with a crown of dry skulls, head necklace and five mudra [ornaments]." (bod brgyud nang bstan lha tshogs chen mo bzhugs so, 2001. ISBN 7-5420-0816-1. Page 380-383).

Aside from the Vajravali lineage of Abhayakaragupta and the Mitra Yogin lineage there are several lineages from India that were passed through Marpa Lotsawa.
Lineage 1: Vajradhara, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa Chokyi Lodro, Ngog Choku Dorje, Shedang Dorje, etc.
Lineage 2: Vajradhara, Kukkuripa, Padmavajra, Tilopa, Naropa, etc.
Lineage 3: Vajradhara, Vajrapani, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Samantabhadra, Sumati, Gewai Gocha, Namgyal Wangpo, Marpa Chokyi Lodro, etc.

Database Search: All Images | Painting | Sculpture | Mandala

Jeff Watt 2004 [updated 8-2016, 5-2017, 1-2020]

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