Originally the epithet of the Hindu god Lord Shiva Mahakala emerged in later Buddhism as one of the eight ‘Dharmapalas’. Mahakala has independent shrines dedicated to him but not too many. The deity is more popular among Sakyapalas, the followers of Sakya order. Often a frontispiece on a lintel Mahakala is believed to guard the door from everything untoward. From the 11th century onwards, after the known Buddhist teacher Atisha Dipankara envisioned his two forms for worship, Mahakala emerged as a more popular deity. The icons of Mahakala usually have a plump, dwarfish rotund body, square face with open mouth displaying gnashing teeth and a menacing appearance. He shares many personality traits and attributes – a third eye, skull-garland, enemy figure under his feet, snakes around his body, abode in cremation ground … with his prototype who is Shiva. He is holding in his left hand an urn containing Buddha’s relics as he alone was beyond time.
The icons of Mahakala usually have a plump, dwarfish rotund body, square face with open mouth displaying gnashing teeth and a menacing appearance. He shares many personality traits and attributes – a third eye, skull-garland, enemy figure under his feet, snakes around his body, abode in cremation ground … with his prototype who is Shiva. He is holding in his left hand an urn containing Buddha’s relics as he alone was beyond time.
This thangka painting represents one of the most celebrated Buddhist deity, goddess Tara.
In Buddhist tradition goddess Tara has several manifestations, though the main among them are her green and white forms. This thangka represents her green form. Tara, a term developed from ‘Tar’, meaning help wade across, was initially worshipped as the goddess of navigators helping them successfully accomplish their voyages. For highlighting this aspect of the goddess the thangka paints behind her a sea-like waving blue background contained within the golden arch defining the universe that goddess Tara pervades. Subsequently she emerged as the deity, and the most powerful one among all female Buddhist divinities, who helped wade across the tumultuous sea of this material world and the cycle of life and death. Revived an old cult or originated a new, Dipankar Asita played the pilot role in the development of Tara cult.
The oval shaped artifact represents three enlightened monks, venerated as three Buddhas. They are in the spiritual assembly. One of them seems to enshrine the sacred enclosure while other two are engaged in some serious discourse. One of these two monks is holding a child while the other is carrying in one of his hands a large pot and in the other, a staff atop which hang a bag-like article and a double drum.
The statue portrays an old poor Jew earning his bread by doing petty labour such as did a porter. His face, most expressive as it is, reveals his poverty and pitiable condition. Jews were one of the richest trading communities but were completely destroyed during the Second World War. In the figure reflects the same phase of the Jewish community's plight.
An excellent work of art, this mandala illustrates Buddha’s birth and attainment of enlightenment, the Buddha’s multiplication, Samvara images engaged in love with his consort, and arhats. The principal theme of the Buddha’s birth and attaining enlightenment has been depicted in the centre. The newborn divinity, as is the myth, soon after his birth walks seven steps and at all seven places lotuses emerge. Close by has been painted a figure of matured Buddha with typical Chinese features. He is standing under a tree, obviously the Bodhi-tree, under which he attained enlightenment. Around this central circle, in between it and the outer ring, are four circles, each enshrining nine Buddhas, and four vertical columns, each composed of two images of Samvara and his consort engaged in love.