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Yamantaka - artelino

Yamantaka - Detail from old thangka.This guy does look a bit unpleasant like a monster that just emerged out of a poor SciFi film. His name is Yamantaka, and he is a part of the large pantheon of Tibetan Buddhism. Yamantaka is one of the so-called wrathful deities.

Yamantaka in Tibetan Arts and Crafts

You can still find him frequently on thangka paintings. As a copper metal statue this figure has become rare. With 34 arms and plenty of accessories an all-hand-made Yamamtaka statue is a rather laborious effort to make. And tourists are frightened to place a Yamantaka statue in their homes.

The Mess with Tibetan/Buddhist Deities

The pantheon of Tibetan deities is huge and can become confusing for non-experts. And unfortunately those who have the knowledge are often incompetent to explain something, or they want to prove the rest of the world how smart they are and how stupid and ignorant you are. Not helpful.

How to Recognize Yamantaka

Gold-plated Yamantaka Statue from Nepal.Fortunately Yamantaka is among those characters that are easy to recognize and identify by complete beginners to this subject. Artists from the Himalayan region still understand themselves more as artisans and follow strict iconographic, centuries old patterns. Therefore you will find Yamantaka always with the following attributes and characteristics:

  • The guy is shown in blue.
  • He has 34 arms, eight in a double row on each side and two arms raised to the front and holding a chopper and a scull.
  • He has eight heads.
  • Yamantaka always wears skulls lined up on a girdle around his neck and his fat belly.
  • The main head is that of a bull.
  • Yamantaka has 16 feet which he uses to trample on a number of poor beings that vary in number and character.
  • Often Yamantaka is shown in sexual contact with a consort. This sexual position is called yab-yum in the Tibetan language.
  • To make the guy look even more scary, you often see a snake between his legs.

Yamantaka - the Terminator

Yamantaka Thagka 19th Century.Yama is the god of 'death'. And 'antaka' in Sanskrit means 'terminator' or 'destroyer'. Thus Yamantaka is the guy who destroyed the God of Death. According to old Tibetan mythology, Yamantaka one day climbed seven floors down into the earth to hell to fight the God of Death. And to have a chance of winning, Yamantaka took this very dreadful appearance of the God of 'yama'. And it worked. When the God of Death saw Yamantaka (his own image), he was so-to-say 'frightened to death'. Funny. But that is the simple story when stripped down to the essentials.

Dieter Wanczura, May 2010.

Yamantaka Gallery

Yamantaka Thangka - 20th Century.

Yamantaka Thangka - 19th Centruy.

Yamantaka Thangka - Detail.

Yamantaka Statue, gold-plated, cire-perdue, hand-made - 20th Century.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 October 2010 23:09  

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