About the Artwork

This rare gold-on black composition, painted by Chewang Dorje, depicts the assembly of the phurba-bodied deity Yamantaka (Tib. Jampal Trochu) and his retinue, a unique wrathful deity practice of the Drukpa Kagyu School that is not commonly transmitted. Yamantaka Trochu was the main personal yidam of the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, Dongyul Nyima (1931-1980), who in the 1970s rebuilt his Khampagar Monastery at Tashi Jong in India, after having received an auspicious vision of this wrathful form of Manjushri when he first visited this site.

Yamantaka, as the central figure, is extremely wrathful and dark red in color, with three faces, six arms, and the lower body of a ritual-dagger or spike (Skt. kila; Tib. phurbu), with a fiery triangular blade. Each of his three ferocious faces has three round red eyes, a gaping mouth that reveals his four sharp fangs and twisting red tongue, and upward-blazing facial hair. His central face is blue-black in color, his right face green, his left face dark red, and each face is adorned with a jewel-topped five-skull crown with hanging filigree bone ornaments. His powerful bodily form is adorned with the 'ten attires of the charnel ground': his forehead, cheeks and chin are respectively smeared with cemetery ash, fresh blood, and human fat. A flayed and bloody elephant-skin hangs across his back, a flayed human-skin is tied around his neck, and a tiger-skin loincloth is bound around his waist. He abides amidst a blazing mass of awareness fire, and he possesses the mighty blue vajra-wings of a heruka or 'blood-drinking' deity, the long feathers of which are sharply pointed on his right side and sword-like on his left side.

The blue blade of the triple-sided dagger that forms his lower body is fashioned from meteorite iron, with flames emanating from each of its three sides. Crowning the top of these three blades is the ferocious head of a makara or 'water-monster', which bites down on the blades. On either side of the phurba's central blade are the tails of two entwined naga-serpents that the makara is devouring, with the lower part of the deity's severed-head garland appearing in front of these entwined serpents. The sharp fiery tip of this mighty phurba pierces the heart of a demonic enemy, who has been cast down onto the deity's golden sun-disc and multicolored lotus. This lotus rests within a brazier-like, triangular dharmodaya or 'reality-source', which is fashioned from a narrow upper row of haughty dry white skulls and a lower row of flames.

The retinue of eight directional phurba-bodied deities that surround Yamantaka are similar in form to him, although only three of them have three faces and six arms, while the other five have one face and two arms. The phurba tips of all eight of these deities pierce through the hearts of the demonic enemies that are pinned-down on the golden sun-discs of their lotus seats.

Enthroned upon a lotus amidst rainbows at the top of this composition is Vajradhara, the blue 'primordial-buddha' of the various Kagyu lineages of transmission. And similarly enthroned below Vajradhara is the yellow-orange form of the wisdom-deity Manjushri, the peaceful manifestation of Yamantaka, who holds the attributes of a sword and a lotus supporting the text of the Prajnaparamita Sutra or 'Perfection of Wisdom.'

© text by Robert Beer

Popular Images

About Our Prints


PEM Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

Member Discounts

PEM Members receive their 10% discount for all PEM Custom Prints purchases. Simply enter your valid member number into the form at checkout and the discount will be applied to the items in your cart. Member discounts cannot be combined with other offers.