Vajravārāhī is often the object of visualisation in the Six Yogas of Naropa (Tib. nA ro’i chos drug) and the Mahāmudrā, the pillars in the Kagyu (Tib. bka’ brgyud) teaching of Tibetan Buddhism. The cult of Vajravārāhī became popular among the Tanguts with the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism between the 11th and 13th centuries. A Vajravārāhī Cave was built at Liangzhou (涼州), on the outskirt of the present-day city of Wuwei (武威), in 1130 CE during the reign of Emperor Chongzhong (r. 1087–1139, 崇宗). This cave is a good illustration of the cult of Vajravārāhī in the Tangut territory. The thangkas discovered among the Tangut antiques from Khara-Khoto also contain images of Vajravārāhī alone or paired with Cakrasaṃvara. However, the most critical evidence of the cult of Vajravārāhī is the Tangut translation of Buddhist texts on Vajravārāhī. This talk aims to provide an overview of Tangut Buddhist manuscripts related to Vajravārāhī. The talk will explore the content of these manuscripts. It will also discuss the role of Tangut Buddhism in the transmission of the cult of Vajravārāhī in the region.
Chung-pui Tai is a Tangutologist and a Teacher Educator. He is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong and specialises in Tangut manuscripts and Chinese language education. His recent publications include: Chung-pui Tai, “Decipherment of Tangut Fragment with Tibetan Phonetic Glosses Or. 12380/3910 from the British Collection, and on Its Relationship with Fragments from the Russian Collection,” in Qiang Songs on the Silk Road: Proceeding of the International Academic Forum on Literature and Manuscript of Ethnic Minorities in China, ed. Tang Jun (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, forthcoming) and Viacheslav Zaytsev and Chung-pui Tai, “Re-examination of Tangut Fragment Or. 12380/3495 from the Collection of the British Library,” Tangut Research 45 (2021): 111–118.