Enlarge Image

Deities and Devotion in Mongolian Buddhist Art

Lords of the Cemetery
19th century
Wood, papier maché, pigments

Loan from the collection of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton

The Lords of the Cemetery (Shmashana Adhipati) take the form of two dancing skeletons, one male and one female. The male skeleton brandishes a bone club and holds a skull cup brimming with blood. The female skeleton holds a stalk of grain and a magic vase. The Lords of the Cemetery were traditionally invoked in various tantric rituals to protect against criminals and to bring material gain.

Reference: Fleming, Zara (ed.). Mongolian Buddhist Art: Masterpieces from the Museums of Mongolia. Volume 1, Parts 1 & 2: Thangkas, Appliqués and Embroideries. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2011, pp. 894-895; Meinert, Carmen (ed.). Buddha in the Yurt: Buddhist Art from Mongolia, Volumes 1 & 2. Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2011, pp. 632-633; Linrothe, Rob and Watt, Jeff. Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond. New York: Rubin Museum of Art, 2004, pp. 126-129.