Citipati – the Dancing Skeletons

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The dancing Skeletons

Citipati (Tib.: Dutro Dagpo)

The Dancing Skeletons

This happy couple is also called the ‘Lord and Lady of the Charnel Grounds’ and they are the principal Dharma protectors that are associated with the tantric systems of Vajrayogini.

Meditation practices on the charnel grounds was a common tantric practice with the Indian Mahasiddhas , especially connected to the Heruka Chakrasamvara/Yogini transmission lineage.

These above-ground sites were places that were covered with human flesh, bones and blood, where corpses were brought to be cremated -if one could afford the wood- but more often they were left to be ripped apart and eaten by wild animals, such as vultures.

These frightening places were far from town where no one usually went, except for these yogis who came to contemplate and meditate on the impermanence of all phenomena.

These happy looking skeletons are also a common feature at the Cham Lama dances that are held by the monasteries at certain Buddhist festivals. These events are lively costumed and masked dances performed by monks and accompanied by music played on traditional Tibetan instruments.

Citipati Thangka
Copyright: © Carmen Mensink 2004
Status: For sale

The making of

These photographs show Carmen working on this thangka, applying bright colors with small brushes on a black background:

citipati-dancing-skeletons-by-carmen  dancing-skeletons-citipati-carmen-mensink
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