|Circa 13th century, Western Tibet|
Mahakala (Buddhist protector)
Tibetan inscriptions are on the back of the thanka.
Kartridhara, Mahakala. Tibetan Gonpo Nag po Chen po, English; Black lord carved with a knife.
Glorious Lord, blue-black in color, with one face and two hands, three round red eyes, bared fangs, orange hair flowing upward, a crown of five dry skulls, a necklace of human heads and nagas of the five races adorning the head. The right hand holds aloft a curved knife, the left holds to the heart a blood filled skullcap. The right leg is bent and the left extended, standing above a lotus, sun and upturned human corpse. Wearing a lower garment of tiger skin [he] dwells in the middle of a blazing mass of red-black fire.
Also adorned with a large green flowing scarf and two necklaces of writhing snakes Mahakala is portrayed against a bright red nimbus completely surrounded with licks of flame contrasted against a dark blue background above a multi-colored lotus in the middle of a blue lake.
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