Caturbhujamahakala or the four-armed Mahakala is known in Tibet as Nakpachenpo and was originally a Brahmanic deity. He became in Tantric Buddhism not only a dharmapala or defender of the Buddhist faith but also an important yidam or tutelary deity. By the sixteenth century he was named the yidam for the entirety of Mongolia. He remained popular with all Tibetans and in particular with the Saskyapas. He is often given a shrine of his own in monasteries. Taking his rather large size and quality into consideration, one may suggest that the presented bronze once was housed in an important temple chapel.
Mahakala has countless manifestations of which the four-armed type is a less common one. He is seated here gracefully in the lalitasana posture on a corpse atop a lotus base. Characteristically he has a round belly and a demonic face with large open eyes, flaming eyebrows and snarling mouth. The garland of severed heads, human and elephant skin, alike the sacred cord in the form of a snake, add to his macabre appearance. His principle hands hold kapala and the ritual chopper. His upper hands were once embellished with the sword and skull-crowned staff. Some ancient patchwork repairs are visible.