Antique Tibetan Buddhist tsakli miniature painting, considered to be an important visual aid for monks in training when conferring empowerments. This tsakli painting depicts the fierce deity Mahakala, wearing a tiger's pelt and elephant skin, with decapitated heads strung around his waist. In his hands he holds a kapala skull cup containing the elixir of life and a kartika or ritual flaying knife. He also holds close to his body a khatvanga or ritual staff with three human heads at the upper end. The three heads represent the overcoming of the three roots of evil, greed (raga), ill will (dvesha), and delusion (moha). He stands on a corpse atop a lotus pedestal with the blazing flames of awareness emanating from behind him. Painted on cloth in red, blue, and yellow pigments, the reverse side with Sanskrit writing to identify the painted figure.
Dimensions: 4 1/2" x 3 3/4"