male figure with three graduated rows of three grimacing faces on each row, wearing headdresses of smiling skulls, with two animal heads at top; figure has six arms, four legs, and pair of wings; male figure engaged in intercourse with a small female figure with long hair, wearing similar headdress with similar facial expression; base has two small figures--one reclining backward, one lying on stomach; dark patina with some red inlays remaining; received with base separate from figure; b = paper fragments removed from inner cavity

Hayagriva, 18th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

In Tibetan Buddhist practice, buddhas and bodhisattvas can express benevolent and wrathful sides. Hayagriva is a wrathful emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Shown in yamyum (sexual embrace, or “father mother”) pose, Hayagriva represents compassion, and goddess Nairatmya represents wisdom. The couple’s union symbolizes the essence of enlightenment, accessed by a Tibetan Buddhist through concentrated meditation on such a deity.

Hayagriva is identified by the two horse heads neighing from his hair. He holds a skull cup and a curved knife, and he wears a garland of severed heads and flayed tiger skin. An unusual three-tiered arrangement of three heads, their faces baring fangs and bulging eyes, all topped with skull tiaras, underscores his wrathful nature. Dramatic wings evince the deities’ supernatural powers. These terrific features express Hayagriva’s ability to convert anger into insight as well as his fierce determination to assist devotees to overcome their attachments and illusions.

Details
Title
Hayagriva
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2019.50
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Show Detail

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

male figure with three graduated rows of three grimacing faces on each row, wearing headdresses of smiling skulls, with two animal heads at top; figure has six arms, four legs, and pair of wings; male figure engaged in intercourse with a small female figure with long hair, wearing similar headdress with similar facial expression; base has two small figures--one reclining backward, one lying on stomach; dark patina with some red inlays remaining; received with base separate from figure; b = paper fragments removed from inner cavity