Black Cloak Mahakala or Bernag Chen

17th century

Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art

The painting is dominated by Black Cloak Mahakala (Bernak Chen), the special protector for the tradition of the Black Hat Lamas. Originally the protector for the family of the Second Black Hat Lama, Karma Pakshi, the Black Cloak Mahakala is now associated with all of the Black Hat Lamas down to the present day. An inscription states that “Without error [this] painting of Five Deity [Mahakala] was painted by the hand of [Situ Panchen] Cho[-kyi] Jung[-ne]” (1699-1774). Its unusual appearance—specifically, the sensitive handling of the animals, such as the realistic depiction of the elephant in the bottom center—bears some resemblance to paintings attributed to the Tenth Karmapa, which certainly have inspired this work.

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  • Title: Black Cloak Mahakala or Bernag Chen
  • Date Created: 17th century
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Rubin Museum of Art, C2002.8.4
  • Medium: Pigments on cloth
  • Place of Creation: Tibet
  • Exhibition History: Rubin Museum of Art, "The Tenth Karmapa: Tibet''s Eccentric Master Revealed" (03/02/12 - 07/30/12), Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., "Lama, Patron, Artist: The Great Situ Panchen" (03/13/10 - 07/18/10), Rubin Museum of Art, "Patron and Painter: Situ Panchen and the Revival of the Encampment Style" (02/06/09 - 08/17/09), Rubin Museum of Art, "Portraits - Karmapa" (06/24/05 - 10/16/06)


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