Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Offerings to Wrathful Deities

late 16th–17th century
Distemper and ink on cloth
66 15/16 x 43 11/16 in. (170 x 111 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Frances Gould-Naftal and Marvin Naftal, 1983
Accession Number:
Not on view
This black-ground (Tibetan: nag thang) painting was installed in the chapel (gonkhang) dedicated to the wrathful protective deities (dharmapalas), a room reserved for tantric initiation rites within a Tibetan monastery. The exceptional scale and complexity of the composition relate the painting to the offering-scene murals known as “sets of ornaments” (Tibetan: rgyan tshogs) that adorn the interiors of shrines dedicated to the dharmapalas. Two wrathful tantric deities are represented with flames emanating from their beings, standing on a male corpse atop a lotus pedestal. They are draped in flayed skins and garlands of severed human heads. Offerings of flayed skins, ritual utensils and objects, and a vast assortment of weapons fill the interior. Framing the scene above is a curtain of flayed human skins and organ entrails.
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