Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Simhamukha Iconography

Simhamukha Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Yanrtra Diagrams
- Simhamukha Outline Page
- Single Deity (Sakya)
- Three Deity (Sakya, Chakrasamvara System)
- Five Deity (Sakya, Kalachakra System)
- Bodong Sengdong (Sakya, Dagnang)
- Three faced, six armed (Dzongpa Tradition)
- Confusions (below)
- Others...

Nyingma 'Treasure' Tradition:
- Rinchen Terdzo Forms of Simhamukha
- Jatson Sengdong
- Longsal Sengmar
- Chagme Sengdong
- Tagsham Sengmar
- Dudul Dorje Sengdong
- Others...

"...the wisdom Dakini Simhamukha, with a body blue-black in colour, one face, two hands; three eyes, red, round and glaring; bared fangs and a curled tongue. The right hand holds aloft to the sky a curved-knife marked with a vajra. The left a blood filled skullcup to the heart, carrying a three-pointed khatvanga staff in the bend of the left elbow. Orange hair, eyebrows and beard flowing upwards, with five dry human heads as a crown and fifty wet, blood dripping, as a necklace. With five bone ornaments and a tiger skin as a lower garment; standing on the left leg with the right drawn-up, in the middle of a blazing fire of pristine awareness." [sGrub Thabs Kun bTus, vol.8, folios 288-290. Translated in 1989].

There are other figures represented in art that also have a lion face, both male and female. These figures, in some cases, can also be called Simhamukha but are secondary figures in the retinue of a principal meditational deity or are worldly gods and deities. Most notably is the lion-faced attendant to Shri Devi, commonly depicted following the donkey or mule. There is also a lion-faced attendant in the fifty-eight wrathful deities of the Guhyagarbha Tantra.

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Jeff Watt 6-1998 [updated 10-2016, 4-2017, 2-2020]

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