Kurukulla, Vanquisher of Evil Spirits
Artist/maker unknown, Mongolian or Tibetan
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In this painting the goddess Kurukulla brandishes a bow and arrow and a goad (composed of flowers) to subdue malicious spirits. Her tiger-skin skirt suggests the fearlessness she requires of her devotees, such as the monk in the upper left corner. He may be the Indian teacher Atisha (982-1054), who promoted worship of Kurukulla in Tibet. The bucolic landscape at the bottom of the painting contrasts craggy, golden mountains-populated with deer and a family of waterfowl swimming on a jewel-filled pond-with sinister raptors and a tiger eating a human corpse next to a white stupa (at lower right). Like Christian memento mori paintings, such reminders of death are meant to alert viewers of the preciousness of life.