Four Lokapas - guardians of the four directions
  See it in the Museum
Reception desk
Orientation 1
Wall object 4

ABM 038

 Code: ABM 038

  Country: Tibet


  Date: 1700 - 1800

  Dimensions in cm WxHxD: 55 x 19

  Materials: Pigment on paper

Four Lokapas - guardians and kings of the four directions. Vaishravana (North), Dhritarashtra (East), Virudhaka (South), Virupaksha (West)

These four figures represent the first Hindu deities integrated into the Buddhist narratives. According to the tradition, the Four Guardian Kings came to Shakyamuni Buddha shortly after he had attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Each offered the Buddha a black bowl made of either sapphire or lapis lazuli. The Buddha accepted the gifts and the four bowls miraculously merged into a single bowl. This is the black bowl typically seen in Shakyamuni's lap in painting and sculpture.

The Four Guardian Kings are often found on mural paintings at the entrance to Buddhist temples. The iconography of the Four Kings generally follows a Chinese or Central Asian style. They wear the heavy protective armor of warriors. In later East Tibetan representations from the 18th century, the Four Kings are depicted as peaceful deities.

Of the Four Guardian Kings, only Vaishravana is used as a meditation deity in Vajrayana Buddhism. Apart from his place and representation in the group of four, he is most often represented riding a lion. He appears in various forms and is mainly invoked as a deity of wealth.