We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 In line with NSW Health advice, the Art Gallery is temporarily closed to the public. Stay updated on our social media.

Title

Mahakala

19th century

Artists

Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Mahakala by
Alternate image of Mahakala by
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Tibet
    Date
    19th century
    Media category
    Painting
    Materials used
    pigment on cloth with cloth cover (thang-khebs) and ribbons (thang-dzar)
    Dimensions
    101.3 x 108.0 cm image; 166.7 x 146.0 cm overall
    Credit
    Gift of Alex and Vivienne Kondos 2011
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    109.2011
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Share
  • About

    This is a painting of Black Mahakala, one of the eight dharmapalas (protectors of Buddhism). The name of this image is Panjara Mahakala, which refers to his position as the deity of cemeteries who destroys the cages of ignorance in which living beings are trapped. Mahakala is particularly popular in Vajrayana Buddhism because he upholds justice and punishes evil-doers, as well as removes the barriers to enlightenment. His wrathful expression, the objects he holds and wears, and the terrifying scenes around him indicate what is necessary to defeat the forces of evil and ignorance. Directly above Mahakala is the blue-skinned Adi Buddha. He sits cross-legged and holds a vajra (thunderbolt) and ghanta (bell) with arms crossed over his chest in a position called vajra humkara mudra. This position represents the combination of wisdom and compassion that is necessary for enlightenment in Vajrayana Buddhism.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, January 2012

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    Tibet

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition