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Six-Armed Mahakala

Date:
early 18th century
Culture:
Tibet
Medium:
Distemper on cloth
Dimensions:
83 3/ 8 x 57 3/4 in. (211.8 x 146.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Florance Waterbury Bequest, 1969
Accession Number:
69.72
Not on view
The ferocious aspect of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Mahakala is shown in a flaming aureole, his six hands holding his horrific ritual implements. Attending Mahakala are four yaksha “ministers” in red and blue, and below they ride a bear and a horse and flank the protector goddess Palden Lhamo on her donkey. The celestial Buddha Amitabha presides, flanked by mahasiddhas and Gelugpa patriarchs. Tangkas at this scale often replaced damaged wall paintings. The inscription on the reverse reads in part: “The Great Protector, Mahakala, the fierce god who is inseparable from my Lama [to whom] I present this tangka of the Great Protector, whose true spirit is ever present in the precious painting. . . . . May you the Great Protector always be near us and help us to follow the path to righteousness.”
Inscription: April 1970: Translation of back of painting done by Dorje Yudron Yuthok:
'My humble salutations to the most loving, compassionate of all times - the past - present and the future.

The Great Protector, Maha Kala, the fierce God who is inseparable from my Lama (Guru).

To the Upper Tantric College, I present this thanka of the Great Protector, whose true spirit is ever present in the precious painting and is inseparable.

To you (Maha Kala) I pray that my good deeds be of service to all living beings from now until the time when all have achieved Buddhahood. May you the Great Protector always be near to us (never leave us) and help us to follow the path to righteousness. (from catalog card)
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