Achala, King of the Wrathful Ones (previously identified as Vighnantaka)

Achala, King of the Wrathful Ones (previously identified as Vighnantaka)

early 1200s

Thangka, silk tapestry

Overall: 100.6 x 74.3 cm (39 5/8 x 29 1/4 in.); Mounted: 111.1 x 83.8 x 7 cm (43 3/4 x 33 x 2 3/4 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1992.72



Close ties between the Buddhists of the Central Asian Tangut Xia kingdom and Tibetan monasteries resulted in works of devotional art, such as this tangka, featuring a remover of obstacles. The imagery has its roots in Nepal, where Vighnantaka was summoned by a powerful practitioner to defeat the Hindu god Ganesha, who was disturbing the proper performance of a tantric Buddhist ritual. For this reason, Ganesha and his father Shiva are being trampled under the feet of Vighnantaka. Vighnantaka is an emanation of the Buddha Akshobhya, who is blue in color and is invoked to aid in quelling anger. This Buddha appears in his crown and as the central figure among the group of five transcendent Buddhas, who are fundamental in tantric Buddhism, depicted above the main image. This rare Tangut tangka is one of few to survive from the period preceding the Mongol conquest of the region in 1227.

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