Essay on Rubin Museum: Six-armed Mahakala

Essay on Rubin Museum: Six-armed Mahakala

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As the protector of all Tibetan Buddhism, Mahakala is an object of meditation as well as the “protector of dharma.” Being a dharmapala which is a type of wrathful deity, his job is to quite the mind and to destroy and help one meditating reach a new level of awareness. His name translates from ‘Maha’ to ‘great’ and ‘kala’ meaning ‘black,’ which is why Mahakala is known as Great Time or Great Dark One, in Sanskrit.

On March 2nd, 2011, I traipsed to the corner of 242nd and Broadway, and hopped on the 1 train, embarking on a journey to the Rubin Museum to see the Embodying the Holy: Icons in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism. After about an hour train ride, I finally got off at the 18th Street station, and continued my way to the exhibit. Upon arrive to the museum at around 1:17 PM, I started walking around, and came across a very interesting looking statue.

With the exact dimensions of a height of 14 inches, a width of 8 inches, and a depth of 5 inches, this gilded copper alloy with stones stood above a platform, and took a marital, striding pose atop an elephant-headed figure that embodies the strength of the unenlightened mind. What caught my attention is that a middle aged man, who was talking to someone, that had appeared to be his son, started telling a story about how the statue was very symbolic. This artwork was called Six-Armed Mahakala, [Catalogue Number C2006.70.0 (HAR 65729)]. Upon hearing this, I used my BlackBerry to see if this statement had in fact been true, and in doing so, started learning that almost every aspect of this figure had a meaning, such as his color, three eyes, crown, and much more.

I wrote down my observations of Mahakala, and then started to write my paper in th...


... middle of paper ...


...wisdom, passing on the teachings of dharma, and loosing the ignorance, doubt, and confusion.

I chose this icon, because as previously stated, had been intrigued by a fellow bystander that had sparked interest once he talked about how symbolic this statue had been. What I had found appealing was how ornate it was. The copper, gold, and array of jewels caught the attention of many people and made it stand out, especially the way the museum had the light positioned on it.

Having been to this exhibit, I feel that I had experienced both an enlightenment and appreciation for not only artwork, but for the treasured icons in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Buddhist icons. This appreciation has come from the observation of the details which the artists had incorporated. I had learned to understand that it is because the deities are treasured among their followers.

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