Brahmarupa is Chaturmukha Mahakala (the Four-faced Great Black One) appearing as an Indian Brahmin. His main attributes are a bone trumpet, a sword, a garland of skulls, a trident and a vase filled with jewels. Below him are four Brahmins making offerings or displaying gestures with their left hands while blowing horns held in the right hands. They represent ignorance, desire, jealousy and hatred. At the bottom are four wrathful female attendants holding swords, fire, smoke, and a tree branch. Each of these figures is named in a golden inscription.
At the top center is the primordial Buddha Vajradhara with Saraha holding an arrow below and Virupa with his hands in the teaching gesture. At the upper left are the Indian scholars Nagarjuna, Dignaga and Dharmakirti. At the upper right are Aryadeva, Asanga and Vasubhandu. These six are called the Six Ornaments of the Southern Continent. Along the bottom are four wrathful female attendants holding swords, fire, smoke, and a tree branch. There are name inscriptions below most of the deity and human figures depicted. To the left is a temple and to the right are the charnel grounds.
Brahmarupa Mahakala is associated with the Manjuvajra Guhyasamaja cycle of Tantric practice, where he is commonly depicted as a retinue figure. The idea of a Brahmarupa Mahakala was very appealing to the Great 5th Dalai Lama, who in the 17th century created new rituals centered on this deity. These practices necessitated paintings and sculpture, for which a new iconography for Brahmarupa Mahakala was developed independent of Sakya tradition ritual texts and practices. This painting is likely to be Gelugpa in origin.