Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

Tibetan Iconography



Kalachakra, also known as the "Wheel of Time," is the central deity of the Kalachakra Mandala as described in the Kalachakra Tantra. The deity has four faces: a wrathful black face in the center, a lustful red face on the right, a peaceful white face on the left, and a meditative yellow face on the back of his head. Although the yellow face is actually directly behind the central face, it is iconographically depicted to the deity´s left so as to be visible.

Kalachakra has 24 arms. In each hand he holds a different attributs. He dances in the alidha posture on the body of red Ananga [the god of lust] and Rudra [orgiastic Hindu deity connected to elements of fertility]. Kalachakra´s body is dark blue; his left leg is white, and his right leg is red. Kalachakra has twenty-four hands, eight white, eight red and eight black.

Although many of these appear violent, they symbolize the overcoming of violence through compassion and wisdom. The Tantras and commentaries discuss the implements in a great detail, for each implement contains great symbolic meaning; the vajra-cleaver, for example, symbolizes in part the wisdom that cuts through one´s habitually self-centered attitudes and egoism.

The Kalachakra Tantra was introduced into Tibet in the tenth century, It is perhaps the most influential tantric practice in the Vajrayana Buddhism.

The great master Cilupâpa from Orissa is said to have brought back the teachings of the Kâlachakra Tantra from the realm of Shambala to India in 966. Just 60 years later, this extensive teaching system found its way to Tibet.

Source of image: Tibetan Thangka Painting - Methods and Materials - by David and Janice Jackson
Kalacakra Mantra 32 arms of Kalachakra & Vishvamata