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Rahula, Protector of Zogchen Teachings

Artist/maker unknown, Tibetan

Made in Tibet, Asia

c. 19th century

Colors on cloth; cloth mountings

Image: 25 x 18 inches (63.5 x 45.7 cm) Mount: 36 1/2 x 22 inches (92.7 x 55.9 cm) Frame: 45 1/4 x 28 1/4 x 2 5/8 inches (114.9 x 71.8 x 6.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Natacha Rambova, 1961

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This charming folklike painting portrays Rahula, the god of solar eclipses and protector of Zogchen teachings (Tibet's form of Zen or Chan Buddhism). Like other Tibetan planetary deities, Rahula can use his awesome powers to harm or benefit mankind. Mists of illness issue from his gaping mouths, yet he simultaneously aims his bow and arrow at those who break religious vows, and his snake-noose captures those who wander from the Buddhist path. The surrounding animal-headed goddesses and ferocious animals relate to ritual use of the painting to prevent calamities (epidemics, famines, and wars, for example) and cure diseases that are caused by Dud demons and Mamo demonesses (the couple in the center at the bottom).