Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

5.34 Mahakala [6]

Sbas pa´i mgon po - four faced

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This painting is of Mahakala with four faces and four arms, the form that especially protects Buddhist teachings. Mahakala´s body and front face are painted dark blue, his right face is white, his left red and his upper face green. He carries a chopper and a skull cup in his two main hands. His upper right hand holds a sword, and his upper left hand holds a lance with a banner. He wears silk scarves, a tiger-skin shirt, and an elephant-skin cloak. He has jewel and bone ornaments and a human head rosary. His right leg lunging sideward, and his two feet are stepping on human figures representing obstacles on the way to enlightment.

According to legend, the Four-Faced Mahakala manifested in the first century B.C.E. in India to Nagarjuna during meditation and promised to protect Buddhism. Nagarjuna supposedly removed 108 tantric books about Mahakala from a self generated crystal stupa and, from those books, he wrote 108 sadhanas [= collections of evocations] to Mahakala.

He also built 108 temples, each of which was protected by one Mahakala, probably by placing a statue or mask of the deity into a "Mahakala protector house" or Gon Khang, in each of the temples.

The teaching lineage of Four-Faced Mahakala passed down from Nagarjuna until it reached Tibet in the eleventh century. In the twelfth century, the lineage was passed to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, the first of the five great early masters of the Sakyapa order, and Mahakala became one of the main protectors of that tradition.

The deity is now very important for the Gelugpa order as well.

Antique original painting with description by Guissepi Tucci

Measurements: 22.4 x 28.3" | 57 x 72 cm
Price: on request
Shipment: Parcel Service from Germany or Nepal
Color: Color Version
Material: Natural Stone Colors