Vajrayogini Drinking Blood
MediumPigments and gold on sized cloth
DimensionsMat : 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm)
Work : 9 x 7 1/4 in. (22.86 x 18.41 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
Vajrayogini is a powerful female tantric buddha and dakini who functions as a meditational deity in the Highest Yoga Tantra. She can appear in multiple forms. The form depicted here was first described by the 11th-century Indian sage Naropa to whom she transmitted a body of secret teachings, so in this form she is sometimes also called Naro Dakini. As here, Vajrayogini is usually portrayed standing in a lunging pose, with her feet trampling the demons Bhairava and Kalaratri. She has long hair and red skin, and her naked body is adorned with a crown and garland made of human skulls, and jewelry made of human bones. She holds a ritual knife in her right hand, a skull cup filled with blood in her left hand, and she has a tantric ritual staff balanced across her left shoulder. When she tips the skull cup to her mouth, the blood is transformed into a sweet elixir conferring enlightened bliss.