Tibetan Mahakala Masks; About Mahakala
Mahakala is one of the many forms of Lord Shiva. Mahakala literally means "great time". Mahakala is regarded as one of the most powerful forces as in the end all things succumb to the forces of the infinite nature of time itself. In the Tantras Mahakala's consort is Kali. Mahakala is able to swallow the whole Universe. Mahakala is relied upon in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. However, he is depicted in a number of variations, each with distinctly different qualities and aspects. He is also regarded as the emanation of different beings in different cases, namely Avalokiteshvara (Tib: Chenrezig) or Chakrasamvara (Tib: Korlo Demchog, Wylie: 'khor-lo bde-mchog).
Mahakala is typically black in color. Just as all colors are absorbed and dissolved into black, all names and forms are said to melt into those of Mahakala, symbolizing his all-embracing, comprehensive nature. Black can also represent the total absence of color, and again in this case it signifies the nature of Mahakala as ultimate or absolute reality.
Mahakala is almost always depicted with a crown of five skulls, which represent the transmutation of the five kleshas (negative afflictions) into the five wisdoms.
Mahakala masks are typically hung above doorways to homes or temples in order to keep out evil forces.
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