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Deities and Devotion in Mongolian Buddhist Art

Tantric Simhavaktra
19th century
Pigments and gold on sized cloth; silver and glass case
12.1 x 9.2 cm.

Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton, 2014.23.360

Simhavaktra is considered by some to be the queen of the dakini. She has the head of a white snow lion and the body of a human woman. As here, she is typically portrayed in a dancing pose holding a ritual flaying knife, a skull cup filled with blood, and a skull-tipped tantric staff. She wears a five-skull crown and bone jewelry together with an elephant-skin cloak and a tiger-skin skirt. She is accompanied by her two attendants, the tiger-headed Vyaghravaktra and the bear-headed Rikshavaktra. In Mongolia, Simhavaktra was traditionally favored by the Nyingma School and was invoked especially for protection against witchcraft and necromancy.

References: Fleming, Zara (ed.). Mongolian Buddhist Art: Masterpieces from the Museums of Mongolia. Volume 1, Parts 1 & 2: Thangkas, Appliqu├ęs and Embroideries. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2011, pp. 686-691; Meinert, Carmen (ed.). Buddha in the Yurt: Buddhist Art from Mongolia, Volumes 1 & 2. Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2011, pp. 562-571; Kreijger, Hugo E. Tibetan Painting: The Jucker Collection. Boston: Shambala, 2001, pp. 118-119.