Tibet, Simhavaktra/Simhamukha

15th century, Tibet, labelled as Simhavaktra, copper and pigment, photo by gg art.com

15th century circa, Tibet, Simhavaktra, private collection, photo by gg- art.com

Often confused with Simhamukha, of which she is a form, Dakini Simhavaktra is a lion-faced attendant of Palden Lha-mo and therefore represented as a smaller figure in a sculpture or on a painting along with Palden Lha-mo and other characters. She may be accompanied by a lion-faced witch and a bear-faced deity.

Simhamukha, “The Lion-Faced”, is a meditational deity meant to repel all negative forces and obstacles and is regarded as an emanation of Buddha or a wisdom dakini. She has one face with three eyes and bared fangs, two hands, in which she holds a skull cup and a flaying knife, two legs, one of which rests over a victim, the is up in the air. She is adorned with a skull crown, a garland of 5o freshly severed heads, bone ornaments. A three-pointed staff or khatvanga (missing on the above picture) rests on the inside of her left arm. Her hair is erect and usually painted with orange pigment.

Undated, Tibet, copper alloy, Nyingjei Lam collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, copper alloy, Nyingjei Lam collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

This figure has one knee resting on a similar lotus and stands on a similar type of base as the previous one. This, and the absence of gilding suggest it is a relatively old sculpture, no older than the 15th century circa. Her ritual staff is also missing.

16th-17th century, Tibet, gilt copper repoussé, private collection.

16th-17th century, Tibet, labelled Simhavaktra, gilt copper repoussé, private collection.

This lion-faced deity is thought to be Simhavaktra but, apart from having four arms, she has different attributes and is not standing on a victim. There are several other retinue deities who have a lion head.

15th century, Tibet, black stone and pigment, private collection.

15th century, Tibet,  Simhavaktra, black stone and pigment, private collection, published by Renaud Montméat.

This could also be Simhamukha.

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