Following terton tradition (or a person who was a follower of Padmasambhava, the founder of 8th-century Nyingmapa), deities such as Chemchok Heruka may take on varying forms depending on the needs of the times. The wings remain consistent in most depictions, as seen in this one behind the arms. On his waist is a skin of the tiger. Another notable element in this thangka is his consort Namshyalma in a union position. This yab-yum (lit. father-mother) is a symbol of union of a diety and his consort, the union of strength and wisdom of the male and female. She holds a skull cap and the hands on her right side represent the manifestations of eight bodhisattvas (gaurima), while the ones on her left are the manifestations of eight female bodhisattvas (singhama). In addition, the skull caps also appear to have blood, as heruka in Tibetan translates to darg tung (blood drinker). Zoom in near the lower part of the thangka and there are groups of colored spheres each packed with offerings for the deities. The larger bowls appear to be skulls that represent elements of the senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and thinking). This symbolizes an offering of senses to the wrathful deities as symbols of their beings in exchange for blessings.
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