The present thangka is an exquisite depiction of Vajrapani Mahachakra in the Central Tibetan style particular to the Sakya school. The characteristic torana-like flaming aureole, the predominance of red and blue pigment, the powerful, stalky depiction of deities and the geometric arrangement of figures within the surrounding fields are hallmarks of Sakya painting of this period with its pronounced Nepalese stylistic influence. Mahachakra Vajrapani's iconography here agrees closely with the textual description in the Collected Tantras (Rgyud sde kun btus, vol. 23, fol. 215): '[Standing] above a lotus and sun seat, Brahma and Indra, is Vajrapani with the a blue cape, three faces and six hands. The right face is white, left red, each with three eyes. With six hands, the first two hold a vajra and a wrathful gesture upraised. The middle two are folded respectfully embracing the consort possessed of beauty, blue [in color], holding a curved knife and skullcup. The lower two grasp a snake, at waist-level, as food. The right leg is bent, the left straight'.
At the top center of the thangka is Vajradhara with Simhamukha and Shavaripa to either side, followed by the teachers of the lineage: Acharya Jvaparipa, Balpo Pandita Deva Purnamati, Lotswa Chokyi Zangpo, Shenton Rinchen Ngodrup, Mar Gangpu, Khab Chokyi Gyalpo, Lama Purangpa, Kyiton Konchog Bar, Lhaje Tonang, Dampa Drupshe, Yolton Padma, Lama Golungpa Chenpo, Lama Lowo Lotsawa, and the Sakya hierarch Lama Chogyal Pagpa. In the vertical registers to the left and right of the central figure are the retinue deities of the mandala. From the bottom left to right are the following: orange Manjushri, white Avalokiteshvara, blue Vajrapani, red Amitayus, black Mahakala and Vaishravana riding a lion.
For examples of paintings in a similar style, compare the depiction of a Mahakala Panjarnatha illustrated in Gilles Béguin, Art Esoterique de l'Himalaya: La donation Lionel Fournier, Paris, 1990, p. 63, no. 26; another 15th century depiction of Mahakala Panjarnata with a Sakya lineage in the Rubin Museum of Art, see www.himalayanart.org, no. 82; and a thangka of Vajrabhairava in the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, illustrated by P. Pal in Art of Tibet, pp. 146-147, no. P12 and pl. 17.