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National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden | by PetWerewolf
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National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden


c. 19th century

Bronze, gilded


Yama, God of Death and Protector of the South, stands in a threatening posture on his buffalo mount, under which a body is seen lying. The god has a buffalo head and flaming hair. In his right hand he holds a danda, a club crowned with a skull, with which he punishes the enemies of the Buddhist doctrine. In his left, he once held a lasso, used to drag away the souls of sinners. It is now missing. Yama is one of the dharmapalas, or protectors of Buddhist doctrine. His fearsome appearance helps him to combat malevolent demons and other enemies of Buddhism. The dharmapalas are especially revered in the Himalayan region. Originally, Yama was a Hindu god. Like many other Hindu gods, he has been adopted and worshipped by the Buddhists, together with all his original functions. A Buddhist sign on his abdomen, a chakra or wheel, which is a mark of Buddhist doctrine, shows that the statue is part of Buddhist religion. Buddhists turn to Yama especially for protection from death and the fear of death.

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Taken on February 25, 2007