A thangka depicting the Simhamukhi with her attendants

18th century, Mongolia
18世紀, 蒙古

Length: 91 cm, 35.8 inches - Width: 66.5 cm, 26.2 inches
長: 91釐米長: 91釐米 - 寬: 66.5 釐米

Floating above a high-peaked mountainous landscape against the ultramarine ocean and sky is the ferocious figure of the lion-faced Simhamukhi, the wisdom Dakini, who overcomes negative energies. She stands in the pratyalidha stance, with her right leg bent inwards and her left foot trampling on a prostrating naked figure on top of a single lotus pedestal. The Dakini holds a blood-filled skull cup (Kapala) in her left hand and brandishes aloft a Vajra chopper (Vajrakatrika) in her right, while cradled in the crook of her left arm is the Khatvanga- a ritual staff. The wrathful goddess’s forehead is centred with a third eye, adorning her flame like hair is a beaded five-skull crown, her bulging hypnotic eyes stare at the viewer with a compelling intensity, while her open mouth exposes prominent canine teeth. The flayed skins of an elephant and a human are draped over her shoulders, her body further embellished with carved bone ornaments, a garland of freshly severed human heads, a sinuous snake, a ritual bone apron and a tiger skin draped over her back. The demonic goddess further more wears a floating heavenly scarf encircled by a potent ring of flames shaded from light yellow through orange to red.

Accompanying the Simhamukhi and positioned on the sides, are twelve animal-headed dakinis each enveloped by a flaming halo, four of whom are lion-faced Dakinis, with clockwise from the top right, the red Simhamukhi- the wish-granting dakini; green Simhamukhi- the subjugator of Buddhist enemies; white Simhamukhi- the remover of obstacles; and yellow Simhamukhi- the wealth dakini. They are identical in attire and posture to the central figure. The other eight deities carry various attributes and are depicted clockwise from the top right with an elephant, leopard, bear, eagle, boar, tiger and vulture head respectively. Amongst the latter deities are two Simhamukhi’s attendants- The tiger- faced dakini Vyaghramukhi on the left, and the bear-faced dakini Rksamukhi, on the right.

In the upper register seated above the dancing Simhamukha, is the founder of the Nyingma order – Padma Sambhava seated on a cloud, with Amytaba Buddha to his left and a monk seated to his right. In the central lower register, three skull cups are depicted each containing offerings, below which is the heavenly King, and god of wealth- Vaisravana with his consort, both riding on a snow lion. The Guardian who is surrounded by various offerings and jewels, rests a victory banner in the crook of his right arm, whilst in his left he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose, indicative of his status. There are further animal-headed creatures dotted amidst the landscape.

Similar Examples

‘Mongolian Buddhist Art-Masterpieces from the Museums of Mongolia ,Volume I: Thangkas, Appliques and Embroideries Part 2’, edited by Z. Flaming with J.L. Shastri, Serindia Publications Inc 2011, fig. 302, p.686-687 and fig. 304, p.690-691.

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