1). For Nyingmapas it is the four-faced Mahakala.
2). For the Karma Kagyu, the squat misshapen Mahakala.
3). For the Sakyapas it is the Lord of the Tent, whose special implement is the magic staff resting across his outstretched arms.
4). For the Gelukpas, the most important is the Six-Armed Mahakala.
The Mahakala here belongs to the Karma Kagyu lineage, as is evident from his short, grotesque form typical to his school. In addition at the top of the painting is seated the Karmapa (the reincarnating head of the Karma Kagyu lineage), recognizable by his characteristic headgear. Indeed, Mahakala has a special relation with the Kagyu sect. In fact, Mahakala's legendary history was written by Khedrup Khyungpopa, founder of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition, in the eleventh century.