Today’s cultural lesson, from the Asian Art Museum, online gallery, object ID: B60S600. Text copyright (C) by the Museum
Simhavaktra Dakini, an enlightened Goddess of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism, clears obstacles from the paths of those who seek enlightenment and provides inspiration and knowledge. The dancing Goddess’s hair blazes upward with the fire of wisdom. Her lion head indicates fearlessness in confronting all obstacles to liberation. Her cape is made of freshly flayed human skin, signifying her transcendence of the limitations of the human condition. The bone ornaments on her chest indicate that she has passed beyond the cycles of birth and death; the tiger skin around her waist symbolizes victory over all harmful passions and deeds. This figure once held a chopper, a skull cup, and a staff. This image of Simhavaktra Dakini was produced under the patronage of the Qianlong emperor and would have been worshiped in a temple in Beijing or its vicinity.