Vajakila Thangka

Zustand des Rollbildes vor der Restaurierung
This approximately 150 to 200 years old Thangka was before the restoration in a very bad state. The whole Thangka was warped and distorted, especially the upper part of the object is very much destroyed: The brown-golden front fabric is totally gone and in the lining there are a lot of holes and tears.

Especially in the upper textile part of the painting shows serious damages. It could not be maintained in the conservation process. At the bottom of this page you will find three links where you can track the details of the restoration work.

Ikonographic Background
Vajrakila or Guru Drag-dmar is a Tantric manifestation of Padmasambhava. The main characteristic of this divinity is a lower body in the form of a magic dagger [Tib.: Phurba].

The cult of the magic dagger with the Vajra handle [Tib.: Dorje Phurba] and the associated rites for overcoming demons were originally introduced into Tibet by Padmasambhava.

The wrathful red Guru Drag-dmar appears in a halo of blazing flames, his ocher-yellow halo of hair is topped by a crown of five heads and Ratna symbols. The skin of an elephant is slung over his back, his body is adorned with bone bead chains [Tib.: Rus rgyan] and a garland of snakes. A garland of human heads hangs around his neck [Tib.: Mi-mgo phreng ba].

As attributes, Guru Drag-dmar holds a golden vajra in his right hand and a scorpion in his left. The scorpion is a Tantric representation of Vajrapani, who was initiated into the secret teachings in a cemetery by Padmasambhava.

The lower part of the body of Guru Drag-dmar consists of a three-sided dagger [kila] which is held by the mouth of a Makara, lord of the water element. The Makara has dominion over the Nagas, or snake-demons who inhabit rivers and lakes.

In this tangka, Padmasambhava appears in his Vajrakila manifestation; the wrathful red guru and the magic dagger are one.