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The Buddhist deity Simhavaktra Dakini

Video transcript

this is Simba Vatra Dakini Simba vatra means lion faced or lion-headed and a Dakini is a Skywalker she's an inhabitant of the realm of the sky in the mind though this figure comes from 18th century China it is rendered in Tibetan style reflecting cross cultural and religious influences to fully appreciate the sculptures stunning details it helps to understand a bit about Tibetan Buddhism jeff durham assistant curator of himalayan art in tibetan buddhism there are two forces that lead towards enlightenment and they must be in proper balance one is wisdom or knowledge of reality and the other is compassion and one of the things that impresses me most about this object is that balance of compassion and ferocity is reflected in the posture that the docking he takes balance perfectly on her left leg while she raises her right arm towards her flaming hair it can look frightening it can look ferocious but we have to remember what that ferociousness is directed towards in the Tibetan tradition and these are obstacles to enlightenment such as lust anger ignorance this kind of thing every aspect of the statute contains deep meaning for example the intricate garment that she wears the garment is actually the flayed skin of a human being this is a symbolic device that indicates the stripping away of the veil of illusion from perception in other words she has transcended the limitations of the human condition she also wears bracelets armlets anklets and a necklace representing the five different elements and the five Buddha's taken together they symbolize both the cardinal directions of the cosmos for directions plus central axis and the components of ordinary human psychology lust hatred delusion pride and jealousy and if you'll look right on Simba viktoras forehead you'll see a wonderful gleaming third eye that indicates that she is able to see past the illusions of lost hatred and delusion usually encountered in Division this Dakini was considered more than an artistic representation one of the most important things to understand about Tibetan Buddhist sculptures is that we're not looking just at an art object here we're also looking at what the Tibetan Buddhists understand as a presence if you look on the back of simulacra da kini you'll see that there is a cavity it has been possible for our conservators at the museum to insert a small camera we've been able to look inside sim Nevarez flaming head and up there is what differentiates this object from any other sculpture this is a consecration deposit and it consists most probably of Scrolls of sutras that have been inserted into her head this sort of procedure in combination with a specific ritual apparatus transforms simba vatra from a representation into a living image you