Exhibitions/ Art Object

Kurukulla Dancing in Her Mountain Grotto: Folio from a Manuscript of the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom)

Pala period
early 12th century
India, West Bengal or Bangladesh
Opaque watercolor on palm leaf
Page: 2 3/4 x 16 7/16 in. (7 x 41.8 cm) Image: 2 1/2 x 1 15/16 in. (6.4 x 4.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2001
Accession Number:
Not on view
Emphasizing her role as destroyer of corruption, the goddess Kurukulla is surrounded by a halo of flame and dances on a corpse. Like so many of the aggressive deities that emerged in the esoteric tradition, Kurukulla is understood to be an emanation of one of the Tathagatas—in this case, the calm celestial Buddha Amitabha, who presides over the western Pure Land. Such dualistic female-male or aggressive-pacific relationships typify how the emerging Vajrayana Buddhist pantheon gave visual form to the breadth of the tradition’s ideological discourse and practice. These tiny paintings were executed by an artist of great skill and are among the greatest palm-leaf manuscript illustrations that survive from the Indian subcontinent.
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