Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Goddess Kurukulla

19th century
Appliqued satin, brocade and damask, embroidered silk and painted details
Image: 56 × 47 in. (142.2 × 119.4 cm)
Framed: 63 × 54 in. (160 × 137.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Zimmerman Family Collection, Gift of the Zimmerman Family, 2014
Accession Number:
Not on view
This large-scale appliqué depicts the Vajrayana goddess Kurukulla, known as a beautiful bewitcher of men. The four-armed figure’s red skin corresponds to her status as an emanation of the red Amitabha Buddha. Kurukulla is evoked for success with tantric rituals; reciting her mantra allows the practitioner to subdue or bewitch men of all ranks, even kings. Typical of late images of this deity, she shoots a bow with a flower-tipped arrow like the god of love, Kamadeva. As with many ferocious female protectors, she is presented with a headdress of skulls, wearing bone ornaments, and dancing on a pile of corpses. A garland of severed heads frames her body. Below is a group of fierce protectors. This appliqué is an outstanding and well-preserved example of Tibet’s textile image-making tradition.
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