casting with all elements finely and descriptively finished including the extensive
display of attributes and hand-chased jewels, feathers and hair, all harmoniously
realized and interrelated. Not a single detail front or back has been left undone
dazzling bronze displays the 34-armed, 16-legged form of Yamantaka, Conqueror
Of Death. He has nine heads, the principal one of a bull with long pointed horns,
the other eight mounted on the back of his crown which is ornamented with skulls.
His red hair stands on end "with scorpion-sting shaped tips." His mouth is open
to reveal fangs and a lolling tongue seeking blood and other tastes. The eyes
are large and protruding, a third eye located at the center of the forehead. The
eyebrows are angrily knitted and raised. At the apex of the crown above the head
of a garuda is a peaceful head of the Bodhisattva Manjusri, of whom Yamantaka
is the ferocious emanation.
central main hands hold a chopping-knife and human skull-bowl. The other hands
hold pairs of knives and axes, ritual bells, human feet, daggers with handles
in the shape of vajras, tiger’s paws, freshly severed heads, menacing pointing
fingers and so on. Across the back of the figure is fastened a cape made of the
skin of an elephant. The deity wears an elaborate jeweled girdle of skulls, anklets
and other Dharmapala ornaments and surmounts a double lotus base. The identical
layers of legs and arms achieve a kind of hallucinatory animation with all the
legs in the alidhasana posture, a pose taken from classical Indian dance. Yamantaka
and his consort, who holds the skull bowl and chopper, together stand on the backs
of four small figures of subjugated deities. With the poison-transmuting peacock
and the wisdom-perfecting snow lion, they comprise the "four ancient classes of
beings" (birds, animals, humans and gods).
work is sealed at the bottom, indicating that a ceremony was held to invite the
deity into the statue, whereupon it was sealed and engraved with a double dorje.
Buddhists see Yamantaka, the Remover of the Obstacle of Death, as a protector
of Buddhist dharma and the ultimate judge of all karmic acts. An aspect of Yamantaka
was practiced by Padmasambhava, who transmitted it to Padgyal Lingpa, “who was
thereby able to annihilate all outer, inner and secret demons without exception."
Yamantaka enters the world in times of direst circumstance, when existence is
filled with grievous difficulties, terrible dangers, great conflict and flagrant
intolerance. His special powers annihilate the very root of all these troubles
-- atmagraha, or self-cherishing. He enters the mind of the practitioner and completely
destroys the most stubborn, habitual tendencies to hold to the reality of self
and other that is the basis of all error, misery and samsaric rebirth." "The secret
of the body is Vairochana and the Dhyani Buddhas; The secret of speech is Locana
and the Buddha consorts; The secret of the mind is Yamantaka and the Wrathful