This awesome black-ground tangka painting is a visualization image of Mahakala as Panjaranatha, the enlightened protector of the dharma. He tramples a male corpse beneath his feet and holds a flaying knife (kartrika) in his right hand and a skull cup (kapala) in his left, implements for cutting through delusions and ignorance. A ritual wand (gandi) is balanced in the crooks of his arms—a unique attribute of Mahakala symbolizing the source of all other forms of the deity. Thus, Panjaranatha is understood as the "original" Mahakala from which all other manifestations emanate. Several of the latter along with the deity's associates surround him, including Brahmarupa (the "lesser Mahakala," at left), blowing a thigh-bone trumpet, and Palden Lhamo (Mahakala's consort), riding her mule. The black crow and swine are his messengers, and a black garuda hovers overhead. Below, his fearful retinue dances macabrely. In the top corners are two hierarchs of the Sakya lineage, over which Mahakala presides as their principal protector.