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Kurukulla, Vanquisher of Evil Spirits

Artist/maker unknown, Mongolian or Tibetan

Made in Mongolia, Asia
or Tibet, Asia

c. 18th century

Colors on cloth; cloth mountings

Image: 16 3/4 x 12 3/4 inches (42.5 x 32.4 cm) Mount: 36 1/2 x 23 inches (92.7 x 58.4 cm) Frame: 44 1/2 × 29 3/8 × 2 5/8 inches (113 × 74.6 × 6.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1959

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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.