Thangkas are an ancient Tibetan Buddhist art form in the form of scrolls, usually painted on fabric or paper. These works of art depict deities, sacred symbols, mandalas, and depictions of Buddhist mythology and cosmology. Additionally, they are utilized in meditation, as visual mnemonics for teachings, and as objects of veneration.
Yamantaka is a deity in Tibetan Buddhism, falling under Anuttarayoga Tantra - the highest class of Tantric practices. Translated, the name signifies "Destroyer of Death" or "Conqueror of Death". Traditionally portrayed in complex, intricate Thangka paintings, Yamantaka is believed to be a wrathful manifestation of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. He is often depicted with multiple heads and arms, the central buffalo head symbolizing power over negative elements and emotions. Generally portrayed in a powerful pose of intensity, Yamantaka stands atop deities and symbols of ignorance, delusion, and obstacles to enlightenment.
Creating a Yamantaka Thangka Painting requires an expert level of skill and thorough knowledge of traditional Tibetan Buddhist art. Every detail must be precisely rendered and iconographic guidelines strictly observed. There is also a profound understanding of the deity's symbolism and importance as prescribed within Tibetan Buddhism. These works of art are highly revered and used for ritualistic purposes such as empowerments and meditation.