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Description The Buddhist deity Takkiraja lifts an iron hook and holds a lasso to his heart, his index finger raised in a threatening gesture. The tips of both weapons bear the curved prongs of a vajra (the ritual scepter used in tantric Buddhist practices), a reminder that they are used in support of Buddhist goals. With them, Takkiraja overpowers the forces that trap us in the cycle of mundane existence and pulls all beings toward spiritual liberation. The deities in the upper corners of the painting similarly use wrathful means to help free beings from the trappings of ordinary existence. The lower corners feature the protector god Mahakala (right) and a monk, probably the patron of this painting. Scattered throughout the vines of the cool green background are tiny symbols—such as jewels, elephant tusks, and interlocked rings—that allude to the seven precious possessions of the righteous king, and more generally to well-being.
  • Ferocious Beauty: Wrathful Deities from Tibet and Nepal. 2016-2017.
Provenance William H. Wolff, New York; John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore; given to Walters Art Museum, 1973.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 1973

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16th century
opaque watercolor and gold on cotton
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
Image H: 12 1/4 × W: 10 1/2 in. (31.12 × 26.67 cm); Framed H: 25 1/2 × W: 19 1/2 × D: 1 1/2 in. (64.77 × 49.53 × 3.8 cm)
  • Tibet (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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