The carpet features a male effigy, naked and bound by heavy chains at the ankles, wrists, and neck. The effigy is secured within a ritual triangle, each corner supported by a severed head. The ritual triangle rests on a beige ground, its blue border adorned with skulls gripping entrails in their jaws. This carpet is likely to have been commissioned for particular use. The iconography indicates that the carpet was used as a mat on which to conduct rites associated with destruction of the effigy (ling ga). Such bound human figures are known as linga (ling ga), "effigy" or lu (glud), "substitute offering" or "scapegoat". They were presented as appeasements to wrathful deities, and they served as potent visual symbols of negative forces to be ritually destroyed. As recorded in a related tantric text, "…with all hateful enemies, harmful interf´erers, demons and interruption-makers, seize them, bind them, tie them up! Summon them…dismember them, trample them…destroy them, demolish them fully so that not even an atom of them might remain." A monk or nun might destroy these negative forces internally through visualizing meditations, or externally through private ceremonies in which the effigy or scapegoat is summoned, bound and then ritually destroyed.
The Potala had a special section known as the gsang sngags dga' tshal, assigned to the Namgyal College (rtse rnam rgyal grva tshang, founded 1574), whose duty was to perform rituals for the Dalai Lama. This carpet may have been commissioned for a specific temple or chapel where it was used to create the appropriate setting for rites associated with destruction of the linga effigy, in Lhasa or elsewhere in Tibet.
Published: Philip Rawson, The Art of Tantra (Great Britain: Thames and Hudson, 1973; reprint 1978), p. 113.