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Dakini (Sarvabuddhadakini)

Artist/maker unknown, Tibetan

Made in Tibet, Asia

c. 17th - 18th century

Gilded copper alloy with polychrome

13 5/8 × 9 1/4 × 4 1/2 inches (34.6 × 23.5 × 11.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Natacha Rambova, 1964

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The solitary female deity Vajrayogini is closely related to Chakrasamvara, the important Sakya deity. The extremely profound and secret yogic practice related to Vajrayogini, handed down through the Sakya lineage, produces swift realizations that move a seeker speedily along the path to enlightenment.

Here Vajrayogini tramples two figures as she lunges to the left, an act that symbolizes the destruction of negative thoughts and emotions. In her right hand she holds a curved chopper to cut away ignorance. With her other hand she grasps a skull bowl from which she drinks blood, symbolic of the non-dual nature of reality, while her nudity represents reality’s unadorned emptiness. As a whole, this image of Vajrayogini represents the state of enlightenment itself.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This brass image represents a celestial figure, the Dakini of All the Buddhas, the force of inspirational consciousness who urges the devout toward the realization of Buddhahood. She strides to the left upon two four-armed gods, one prostrate, the other supine, whose upper hands salute the goddess. Naked except for a garland and crown of skulls and her jewelry, she has long, flowing hair and a third eye in the center of her forehead. With insatiable elation she drinks blood from the foaming skull cup held high in her left hand; in her right she grasps a chopper. Despite the grimness of the image, it connotes universal ideals of deliverance. The blood-filled cup does away with all ideas of substance and nonsubstance and is a symbol of oneness. Stella Kramrisch, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 57.