Mahakala

Mahakala
Creator:
Tibet
Date:
19th century
Medium:
Opaque watercolor on cotton 
Dimensions:
comp: 29-3/4 x 19-1/4 in. (75.6 x 48.9 cm); mount: 31 x 20-1/2 in. (78.7 x 52.1 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Beata and Michael McCormick 
Accession Number:
P.2001.07 
Copyright:
© Norton Simon Museum 
Not on View
Description

The awesome god of death, Mahakala, surrounded by a halo of red-tipped, dancing flames, tramples an elephant-headed figure that represents obstacles. Above him, five figures float in their heavenly abode: the bodhisattva Shadakshari Lokeshvara at the top, flanked by a peaceful Manjusri and a wrathful Achala, and on the ends, two Tibetan lamas with their distinctive yellow hats. Immediately beneath Mahakala is his spouse, Penden Lhamo. She brandishes a staff and skull cup and rides a mule against a backdrop of darkened flames. Keeping her company in the charnel grounds, indicated by the river of blood along the bottom of the painting, are four enflamed female attendants, who also raise skull cups overflowing with blood.

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