pastel and ink on paper
30 x 29 inches (sheet)
34 x 33 inches (frame)
Kurukulla was originally a tribal goddess of Uddiyana, now Pakistan. She was absorbed into Buddhism and given Buddhist qualities and is now considered to be the red form of Tara. Kurukulla is the goddess of enchantment and witchcraft and is invoked to bring about all of one’s desires. This is accomplished by repeating her manta 10,000 times: OM KURUKULLE HUM HRIH SVAHA.
Kurukulla is depicted as a sixteen-year-old because 16 is the ideal number that signifies perfection (4×4). She is shown in the dance pose (ardhaparyankasana), which indicates she is active and energetic, trampling the prostrate body of the ego amid the circular flames of the fires of pristine awareness. Her hair flows upward; she has three eyes, is adorned with jewels and scarves, and wears a lower skirt of tiger skin and a necklace of freshly-severed heads. She has four arms: the two upper hands hold bow and arrow, while the lower left holds a lasso (or noose) and the lower right a hook that summons. These four implements are made of utpala flowers which mitigate their usual wrathful meaning, but are still used for subjugating, magnetizing, and attracting by controlling the power of passion.
While the western gods Cupid and Eros, to whom she is often compared, enslave their targets to lust, Kurukulla frees them to realize the dharma. This image is taken from an 18th century Tibetan thanka.