Vajrabhairava with Vajravetali
Distemper on cloth
Overall with mounting: 56 x 25 1/2 in. (142.2 x 64.8 cm)
Image: 33 15/16 x 20 1/4 in. (86.2 x 51.4 cm)
Gift of Mrs. W. de Forest, 1931
Vajrabhairava has thirty-four arms and brandishes an array of weapons while his sixteen legs trample birds, dogs, and Hindu gods. He embraces his consort, a vajra-animated corpse, in a yab-yum (Tibetan for “father-mother”) dualistic relationship. They are surrounded by a flaming aureole that terminates in swirling clouds of smoke edged in gold. Vajrabhairava is a yidam, one of a group of deities that preside over the great tantras of the highest yoga; like Yamantaka, he is a destroyer of death itself. Above sits the Buddha Akshobhya with twelve associated manifestations of Hayagriva (shown above and below), each in a different color. At lower right, a two-armed Mahakala stands on a corpse.
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