Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Goddess Kurukulla

Date:
19th century
Culture:
Tibet
Medium:
Appliqued satin, brocade and damask, embroidered silk and painted details
Dimensions:
Image: 56 × 47 in. (142.2 × 119.4 cm) Framed: 63 × 54 in. (160 × 137.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Zimmerman Family Collection, Gift of the Zimmerman Family, 2014
Accession Number:
2014.720.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 253
This large-scale applique tangka depicts the Vajrayana goddess Kurukulla, a beautiful bewitcher of men. She is four armed and her skin is red in correspondence to her status as an emanation of 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 is presented shooting a bow with a flower tipped arrow like the god of love Kamadeva; the much earlier Sadhanamala text tells us that Kamadeva should appear under her throne. Like many ferocious female protectors, she is presented with a headdress of sculls, wearing bone ornaments and dancing on a pile of corpses. A garland of severed heads in various stages of decomposition frame for her body. Below are fierce protectors that include a six-armed Mahakala in the center. To the right, perhaps is the protector Tshangpa who holds a bowl of jewels and a banner, and on the left is the red protector Setab engulfed in flames and holding a lance and noose. This applique is an outstanding and well-preserved example of Tibet’s major textile image making tradition.
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