Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Wrathful Ornaments (Scarf)

Wrathful Ornaments Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Scarf Description (below)
- Bone Aprons & Jewelry
- Peaceful Ornaments
- Deities Named for Garments
- Confusions: scarf
- Others...

The general lists of wrathful ornaments do not include a scarf, long or short. There are of course different lists and different ways to enumerate the ornaments. Descriptions of a scarf are found in the various enumerations of Peaceful Ornaments which also include the Five Silken Garments. Despite the lack of textual descriptions various wrathful figures are commonly depicted with large or small stylized scarves. The scarves are observed as crescent shapes around the shoulders of the figures, sometimes surrounding the upper torso similar to a halo around the heads of peaceful deities, Buddhas and teachers. For the wrathful deities some of the crescent shapes are plain and others well ornamented with design and colour. Some of these crescent shapes do not even seem to relate or connect to the flourishing ends of the scarves.

A wrathful deity commonly depicted with a large stylized scarf is Panjarnata Mahakala, however a popular liturgical text only states; '...flowing with pendants and streamers of various silks...' Heruka forms of deities such as Chakrasamvara and Hevajra are also depicted with the stylized scarf as is the Shangpa Kagyu form of Shadbhuja Mahakala. These four iconographic subjects appear to be the principal examples where the scarf is commonly found.

The earliest examples of the scarf from the 14th century are plain and vaguely imitate a halo. Over time the scarf becomes ornate and stylized likely serving as an artistic function, rather than textual and iconographic, highlighting the head and face.

Jeff Watt 7-2020

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