A Rare Painting of Yama and Yami

A Rare Painting of Yama and Yami
1 record
This is a particularly accomplished example of eastern Tibetan painting. Its expressive, bold forms and dynamic volumes are artistically balanced by its finely rendered, intricate details. At nearly eight feet in height, this is one of the largest Tibetan paintings outside Tibet. It depicts the Vajrayana (Esoteric) Buddhist protective deities Yama and his sister Yami. Yama is the Lord of Death and Ruler of the Underworld who judges souls at the gates of hell. As a Dharmaraja (King of the Buddhist Law), Yama is a major member of the group of Dharmapala (Protectors of the Buddhist Law), who are believed to defend Buddhism and its teachings and to destroy the hindrances of its followers. Buddhists believe that there are inner and outer hindrances that can prevent them from obtaining enlightenment. The inner hindrances are jealousy, anger, hatred, and other low states of consciousness. The outer hindrances are mundane physical obstacles and dangers such as droughts, bandits, and other evils. Yama is seen here in his conceptual form of the Outer Yamaraja (Lord of Death), in which he protects Buddhists and monasteries from the outer hindrances. It is extremely rare to have Yama and Yami as the primary subject in such a large painting at this date. The ferocious pair is more typically portrayed among a series of small protective deities along the bottom of a painting.

- Dr. Stephen Markel, The Harry and Yvonne Lenart Curator and Department Head of South and Southeast Asian Art (2007)