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A Superb Mongolian Buddhist Thangka Painting of Blue Mahakala


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Collection No. TB-2692
Size 26cm x 18cm
A Superb Mongolian Buddhist Thangka Painting of Blue Mahakala
A Superb Mongolian Buddhist Thangka Painting of Blue Mahakala
A Superb Mongolian Buddhist Thangka Painting of Blue Mahakala
A Superb Mongolian Buddhist Thangka Painting of Blue Mahakala

This Superb Mongolian Thangka Painting of Blue Mahakala.  Finely painted with polychrome pigments on handmade cotton paper. Dating from the 19th Century &  with some minor loss to the paint as clearly seen in the photograph top right & left corners. The main figure of Mahakala is in very good condition.

Mahakala is a category of male Tantric Buddhist deities. The common function of Mahakala is as a protector (Dharmapala) deity and specifically the primary a Wisdom Protector of Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhism.  There are dozens of different variations and forms of Mahakala. He is typically in a wrathful appearance following the Indian model of a Raksha demon. In most occurrences and uses of Mahakala, he is paired with a meditational deity such as Shri Hevajra and as Panjarnata Mahakala, Chakrasamvara and Chaturbhuja Mahakala, Guhyasamaja and Chaturmukha Mahakala. In most cases, Mahakala is an emanation, or wrathful aspect, of the principal meditational deity that he is associated with. For instance, Panjarnata Mahakala is the most wrathful emanation, or form, of Shri Hevajra. In other situations, Mahakala might be a wrathful emanation of Vajradhara or Akshobhya Buddha.

According to the Tibetan Art Scholar David Templeman writing in my exhibition catalogue: The Art of Compassion: Buddhist Art in The Todd Barlin Collection 2018

Buddhist teaching is not something learned from books, although they certainly play a part in reinforcing what one has already learned. The prime way of learning in Tibeto-Mongol Buddhism is through one’s master’s words. A common sentiment in those lands is that, without a fully qualified master to transmit them, the Buddha’s teachings may well never have existed. In learning the many complex rituals involving sometimes hundreds of deity forms, their names, iconography, secret syllables and so on, a student must have a teacher who almost always transmits this information orally. As an aid to memory, especially where complex deities are to be learned, small cards representing these myriad forms are shown by the master to the teacher, and the details, often found on the back of each card, are read aloud by the teacher with the intention that the student retains the details in their memory. These small cards are called tsakli or tsakali. When a deity form has been fixed in the mind and one has embarked on the path of Buddhist tantra, at a certain stage one is expected to select a tutelary deity; that is, a deity that is core to one’s heart practice. This deity then becomes the focus of one being, and it is not unusual for both monks and laypeople to spend a great deal of money commissioning a large painting of such deities. These scroll paintings are known as thangkas ”

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist Art & Asian Art

Exhibited and Published:  The Art of Compassion: Buddhist Art from The Todd Barlin Collection. Sydney Australia 2018. Catalogue written By David Templeman, Page 35

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