September 04, 2009
Jeff Watt at Himalayan Art Resources knows everything about Tibetan Buddhist iconography. I sometimes call him and ask questions like, "Who is that odd-looking deity?" Or, with urgent requests like, "We need an image, and we need it now."
I sometimes try his patience, too, so I have to make sure I sort of know what I'm talking about before I call him, and still, it's hard to sound halfway intelligent: the complex landscape of Tibetan iconography is no easy thing to navigate.
But those days may be over. Jeff's blog, which tells us what's new at himalayanart.org, the most comprehensive resource of its kind, recently linked me to an indispensable page on his site: "How to Identify a Deity."
So if you're ever wondering who that wrathful deity is, or what it symbolizes, or why the deities in the kalachakra above are locked in embrace, you don't have to ask. All you have to do is click here.
Here's an an interview with Jeff (he's also a Tricycle contributing editor) that will explain a little bit about Tibetan art and its iconography.