Mahakala of 'Tshal

Mahakala of 'Tshal
Place Made:
15th century
Bronze inlaid with turquoise 
6-3/4 in. (17.1 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

Mahakala, whose name means “great time” or “death,” was adopted by Buddhists in the tenth century as a manifestation of the compassionate bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Mahakala is a dharmapala, or protector of the Buddhist faith; his fierce visage and belligerent attitude frighten away any threat. His eyes bulge out of their sockets, his snarling mouth parts slightly to reveal his teeth and his head bears a crown of skulls. Whether standing or seated, Mahakala tramples a prone figure that represents a vanquished obstacle. The Mahakala on the left holds a skull cup and a piece of fruit, while the one on the right wields a ring of skulls, a drum and a knot of writhing serpents in his outer hands, and a curved knife known as a chopper and skull cup to his chest.

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via email. Requests can also be made by fax or mail.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Please fill our our Online Reproduction Request Form or download the Application for Reproduction Permission PDF Form and submit it to the Office of Rights and Reproductions.

E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: (626) 449-6840 x 3300
Fax: (626) 796-4978