The ornaments worn so elegantly on his chubby body and gigantic head include a jewel-encrusted gold crown, necklaces, earrings, and anklets. A garland of severed heads and snakes and the chalk white five-skull crown complement the ornaments and his glowing eyeballs and gleaming teeth. Each of these five skulls specifically symbolizes the conquest of a particular type of obstruction of enlightenment. Mahakala takes a terrific form and conquers the most horrible realms of existence. As a fierce manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Mahakala helps beings overcome all negative elements, especially spiritual ones, personified and symbolized by the panoply of fearsome creatures over which he becomes lord. He wears his grisly ornaments to show his indefatigable determination to redeem even the horrible.
This particular form of Mahakala, easily recognized by the wooden gong he carries across his arms, is a favorite protector of the Sakya Order.