Kubera Tibetan Buddhist Deity – Thangka Painting


Kubera is a god-king in Hindu mythology. He is a semi-divine Lord of Wealth among the yakshas or nature spirits in the Hindu tradition. As a part of the Lokapalas, he protects the world and is the governor of the North. These Lokapalas are Guardians of the Directions involving the cardinal ways (north, east, south, and west). In Buddhism, Kubera is called Vaishravana. As evident in this Thangka Painting, Kubera is traditionally depicted as a plump deity but one adorned with fancy clothing and jewels, fitting for his association with the mountains and the soil, its riches, minerals, and jewels. This painting used a blue and yellow palette which highlighted Kubera’s glowing golden figure. The rest of the elements are in various shades of blue.

Kubera Tibetan Buddhist Deity - Thangka Painting
Kubera Tibetan Buddhist Deity – Thangka Painting

Legends say that Kubera first lived in Sri Lanka but was ejected when his brother Ravana took his place himself. He then found himself living in the holy Mt Kailasa, which is close to Lord Shiva’s home. Aside from Vaishravana, he is also called Jambhala in Buddhism. Kubera Thangka Painting in Hinduism is known for carrying a parasol while the Tibetan one carries a citron fruit instead which came from the jambhara tree (close to the sound of his other name Jambhala). In this painting, he is shown in a seated position with food resting on a conch shell over a lotus, both notable symbols of Buddhism. Another defining element of Kubera’s image is shown in the painting: the mongoose. Kubera is usually depicted with a mongoose ejecting a jewel from his mouth as a show of generosity and giving as well as a symbol of his triumph over the Nagas and, snake figures that guard wealth and symbolize greed.

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