Tibet, Makaramukha/Makravaktra

Undated, Tibet, Shri Devi retinue figure, copper alloy, at the Capital Museum in Beijing (China), published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This dakini has a human female body and the head of a makara (half crocodile and half elephant). She is adorned with bracelets, armlets and anklets, and has a human hide over her back and shoulders.  She is one of three animal-faced dakinis along with Simhamukha (lion-headed) and Sarvadulamukha (tiger-headed).

Late 18th century, or early 19th, Tibet, Makaramukha, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

Like most dakinis, she adopts a ‘dancing pose’, one foot in the air, the other trampling on a victim, and wears a five-skull crown. The above  is adorned with a Chinese-style cross belt, bracelets and anklets. The human hide is worn loosely on her back.

17th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, bronze.

Along with the lion-headed Simhavaktra, whom we have discussed in a previous post, Makaravaktra is an attendant to Magzor Gyalmo/Palden Lhamo (a form of Shri Devi much worshipped in Tibet). She is in charge of leading her mule or khyang (Tibetan wild ass). As an attendant, she is smaller than the main figure she accompanies.

18th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, brass, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

On this example, we can see the arms of the human hide knotted across her chest and the legs dangling against hers.

17th-18th century, Tibet, bardo deity, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.buddhacollectors.com.

This small makara-headed deity is often confused with Makaramukha, especially because most sculptures are separated from the original set, but, given that she is in charge of leading Shri Devi’s mount, she stands on both feet. Also, she doesn’t wear a skull crown.

18th century, Tibet, labelled dakini Makaramukha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

She usually holds her right hand  above her head, and on this sculpture we can see that she wields a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra).

 

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