Rakta Yamari in Consort with Svabha-Prajna

Red form of the Protective guardian Yamantaka in yabyum position with Svabha-Prajna

Central Tibetan, probably Tsang
Second quarter of the 15th century

Object Place: Tibet


Overall: 112.4 x 94.6 cm (44 1/4 x 37 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Distemper on cotton

Not On View





Painting with decorative borders, mounted on support panel. Would have originally been in thangka format.

Red Yamari is one of the manifestations of the protective deity Yamantaka who is the conquerer of the lord of Death. Standing on the back of a blue cowheard who is lying prone on a red bell. Raktayamari embraces the goddess Svabha-Prajna who represents the female manifestation of his energies. Both deities are nude except for animal skins around their loins and both wear a multitude of ornaments, several of which are composed of human skulls and bones.

Raktayamari is an important deity in the esoteric pantheon and (as can be seen in the four smaller images of Yamari surrounding the main image) he is reverred in several forms1. Red Yamari is worshipped in the rite of unification; white Yamari is honored in the rite of pacification; yellow Yamari is looked to increase welfare; and black Yamari is the focus of the rite of subduing.

Many smaller figures of Yamari and other divinities decorate the side and bottom borders of this painting, The arcade at the top of the painting is inhabited by a row of Buddhist deities and monks. The figure in the center of this arcade is Adi-buddha Vajradhara, the primordial Buddha who carries the thunderbolt. He is attended by three Mahasidahas (perfect beings who have attained enlightenment), three spiritual teachers of the Red cap sect and four monks. The images of the red capped teachers illustrate the spiritual lineage through which the doctrine described in this painting descended to the devotees.

As with 67.828, Rhie and Thurman attribute this thangka to the second quarter of the fifteenth century on the basis of its similarity to images at Gyantse.


1. For an overview of the complicated iconography surrounding this divinity see, De Mallman, Marie-Therese, Introduction a l’Iconographie du Tantrisme Bouddhique, Paris, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1975. For an analysis of this specific image, see Rhie and Thurman.


By 1967, John Goelet, New York, NY; 1967, gift of Goelet to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 13, 1967)

Credit Line

Gift of John Goelet