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Ink and watercolor on cotton
Overall: 20.3 x 12.7 cm (8 x 5 in.)
Delia E. Holden Fund 1985.191.b
Himalayan Gallery 237 Rotation: August 2020-March 2021
These rare surviving pages of a practice book have drawings of prominent tantric figures. The line drawing is confident and masterful, with each iconographic element rendered with clarity and precision. The svelte proportions of the figures follow the style of the Khyenri school initiated in the second half of the 15th century by the artist Khyentse Wangchuk (about 1420-1500), known for his elegant and energetic depictions of the fierce manifestations of the enlightened beings. The best preserved example on this segment is the blue Hevajra in sexual union with Nairatmya, shown in a deeper shade of blue. Chakrashamvara, another powerful emanation of a Buddha, is at the left with his consort Vajravarahi, holding a variety of weapons, tantric implements, and an elephant skin representing the defeat of uncontrolled passions in his twelve hands. The buffalo-headed figure at the right is Yamantaka, a powerful form of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Tantric practitioners invoke this deity to aid in conquering fear of death, one of the most powerful hindrances to enlightenment.
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