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Antique Tibetan Gouache Thangka
Kalachakra
Embracing Consort Vishvamata
Lineage: Gelug. Origin: Tibet, Circa: 19th Century
Silk Brocade: H 53 in.(135cm), W 36 in.(91cm)
Painting: H 39 in.(99cm), W 29 in.(74cm)

Condition: lightly worn, overall very good!

 

The Wheel of Time, Kalachakra is one of the most popular deities in Tantric Buddhism. From peaceful to wrathful appearance as Vajravega (rdo rje shugs), Kalachakra has numerous forms and manifestations. The principal form of Kalachakra has twenty-four arms, and he is blue in color, as his main face is blue, right red, left white, and the face in the back is yellow; which is an identical color of his consort Vishvamata. As shown here through the utmost finesse of a highly capable artist, she is adorned in an exquisitely jeweled diadem, her voluptuous body in appealing yellow-tan skin tone, naked with only strands of woven bone beads in her girdle, with six arms holding various attributes, her two main arms wrapping around the neck of Kalachakra, as his three eyes gaze adoringly at her up turning face, then their gleaming teeth and lips met in a biting kiss. In this remarkable symbolic representation of the Father-Mother Yab Yum image, both male and female are the Buddha. They appear simultaneously united above a diamond patterned sun disk, atop a lotus blossom seat encircled by the flame of pure consciousness, in a warrior pose (Virabhadrasana) they are trampling over Red Kamadeva on the right, and White Rudra on the left side, holding in their thirty-two hands are finely detailed attributes symbolic of their triumph over ignorance.

On closer observation of the characteristics of the figures and painting style, we are able to locate a rather identical thangka at the Tibetan House Museum in New Delhi that was a gift to the Dalai Lama. Perhaps less complex and elaborate in details: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/72064, there are ample of similarities in these two Kalachakra thangkas of the Gelug lineage. Including the Buddha on the top left is the six-armed Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja, at the top center is the primordial Buddha Vajradhara, with a standing twelve-armed Chakrasamvara on the top right. Circulating this central realm, the image at the bottom left is the First King of Shambhala Suchandra (Tib. Dawa Sangpo), he is wearing a light blue robe with vajra and a bell in hands; in the center is the God of Wealth Vaishravana on the Snow Lion; with Vidyadhara (wisdom bearer), Rudra Chakrin the twenty-fifth Kalki King of Shambhala seated on the right.

Painted with the finest brush works for the gradual tone, and light color hues for the seven circles of Buddha images, the artistry and technique engendered a delightfulness and powerful spiritual force. Contrasting to this lighthearted color theme, the heavier tonality of the border and flower motifs suggested a certain playful constraint; which are particularly notable in the laughing Garuda Taotie mask on top of the border, the four dragons playing with the Dharma Wheels on the sidebars, and at the bottom the stupa in the midst of various auspicious offerings that are appearing to be guarded by a chimera and a dragon conch. Written on the back of the thangka in Tibetan, this archetypal image of the ecstatic union of Wisdom and Compassion has been consecrated in a ritual ceremony. The thangka is a masterpiece of 19th century or earlier. Note that the colors are softened due to its age, overall it is well preserved in good condition.

 
 
 
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