Tibet, Kurukulla

This dakini, who sometimes represents red Tara, has one wrathful head with three eyes and two to eight hands, in which she holds various attributes. These may be a drum, a skull cup and a flaying knife, a bow and an arrow, a hook and a noose. Like most dakinis, she stands on one leg over a victim, the other leg drawn up in a dancing position, and is adorned with bone jewellery, a five-skull crown, a garland of fifty severed heads, a tiger skin loin cloth. Her hair stands high up on her head.

17th or 18th century, Tibet, Kurukulla, silver, photo by Skinner auctions.

17th or 18th century, Tibet, Kurukulla, silver, photo by Skinner auctions.

On this example, the flaying knife and the bow are missing but we can see the skull cup and the drums or damaru. She has a Chinese/East Tibetan-style celestial scarf and hair arrangement.

16th century, Tibet, Kurukulla, gilt copper alloy inlaid with stones, photo by Christie's.

16th century, Tibet, Kurukulla, gilt copper alloy inlaid with stones, photo by Christie’s.

This is a Nepalese-style sculpture, lavishly gilt and richly inlaid with small cabochons, turquoise and coral being Tibetan favourites. She holds a long-stemmed lotus flower and a bow in her left hands, the arrow and probably some drums are missing from the other side. Her bone apron is decorated with stones and there are ‘raining jewels’ hanging from it at the front and on each side. Her hair is tied in a mass of curls.

17th century, Central Tibet, Kurukulla, bronze, at the Patan Museum (Nepal).

17th century, Central Tibet, Kurukulla, bronze, at the Patan Museum (Nepal).

This sculpture imitates the 12th century Indian Pala style.

 

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2 thoughts on “Tibet, Kurukulla

  1. Kurukulla may be depicted as the wrathful gods, but She is known as Red tara and tara are supposed to a part of Bodhisattva and being a Bodhisattva, tara are believed to be peaceful one and help all the sentient beings. Isn’t it right?

    • Thank you for your interest in this blog, which deals basically with iconography rather than the religious meaning of sculptures. Generally speaking, Tara is a female deity with different aspects, each with a specific function or meaning. She is not always a bodhisattva, she can be a buddha too. Kurukulla, a tantric meditational deity of Indian origin, may be a form of Red Tara but not exclusively, and she is not necessarily wrathful either. Hope this answered your query!

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