This thangka depicts the Mahakala with two arms. This variation of the Mahakala is called the Bernakchen or Black Coat, although his skin in the thangka is depicted in dark red. He is the main protector of the Karma Kagyu school. True to tradition, the deity is portrayed with a rounded body. In proportion to his body, his legs appear short (although it is also thick and strong-looking). The flaming hair is also highlighted with a halo-like backdrop of flames around his head. He also wears a crown of five skulls which represent the transmutation of five negative afflictions of human nature into virtues and necklace made with skulls. His face shows wrath, starting from the widely opened (three) eyes which represents his ability to see past, present, and future. His eyebrows and moustache appear to be aflame and it represents his power and energy to consume anxious states of mind. His skin is red to symbolize his fiery nature. His right-hand holds a sword that is used to cut out negative emotions such as anger, hatred, or ignorance. His left-hand holds the tail of a tiger on his waist which symbolizes purification of desire. Mahakala can also be seen standing on a corpse of a human (along with a string of human heads on his neck) that symbolizes the death of negativity.
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