Kurukulla Dancing in Her Mountain Grotto: Folio from a Manuscript of the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom)
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)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2001
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.
[ T. T. Gallery , Kathmandu, Nepal, until 2001, sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Early Buddhist Manuscript Painting: The Palm-Leaf Tradition," July 29, 2008–March 22, 2009.
Zurich. Museum Rietberg. "1100–1900: The 40 Greatest Masters of Indian Painting," May 1, 2011–August 21, 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100–1900," September 26, 2011–January 8, 2012.