Tibet, Palden Lhamo (5)

17th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In her most common form Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo in Tibet) rides a mule or a kiang sideways, using the corpse of her dead son as a saddle (we can see his head hanging down).

The above has a figure between her fangs.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, copper alloy with turquoise, coral and pigments, at the Glenbow Museum in Canada.

She has flaming hair and wears a five-skull crown. Her main attendants are Makaravaktra (the makara-headed deity who leads her kiang) and Simhavaktra (lion-headed deity).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Waddington’s.

She travels across a sea of blood.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with polychromy, private collection, photo by Nayef Homsi.

She is often adorned with snakes around her neck and in her hair, in this case large cobra snakes are wound around her forearms. Her mount is also adorned with snakes.

18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, from the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas (USA).       

She has five magical weapons: a pair of divination dice threaded onto a snake that hangs from her saddle, a bundle of red curses, a demon cross-stick or tally-stick, a ball of variegated thread (hanging from the rear of her saddle) and a bag of diseases (see below).

18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

The bag of diseases is derived from an early weapon consisting in a skin bag filled with organic remains from people who had died of a contagious disease. This was thrown into the water supply of a besieged city to poison it.

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Tibet, Palden Lhamo (4)

15th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, thought to be from the Densatil Monastery, at the Asia Society Museum

15th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, thought to be from the Densatil Monastery, at the Asia Society Museum in New York (USA).

This is one of the many variants of Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo in Tibet) with one head and four arms. She holds two swords, a skull cup and a missing object.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, private collection, photo by Christie's.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

16th-17th-c-tibet-shri-devi-4-arms-mule-close-up-christies

The above holds the hide of an elephant, over a human skin, across her back with her upper hands. She has a flaying knife and a skull cup in her lower hands. She sits sideways on her dead son’s skin, which she uses as a saddle to ride her mule.

16th-17th-c-tibet-shri-devi-4-arms-mule-elephant-skin-face-christies

There is a crescent moon topped with a sun disc on top of chignon. Her five-skull crown is adorned with foliate panels and beaded festoons.

17th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, silver with turquoise inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by christie's.

17th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, silver with turquoise inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by christie’s.

Accompanied by Makaravaktra, the small attendant standing near the plain oval base, this one holds a sword and a skull cup on one side, a (missing) trident and a spear on the other (which, in theory, corresponds to her Dudsolma form).

17th-c-tibet-palden-lhamo-sil-turq-15-cm-4-arms-oval-base-sword-skull-cup-spear-elephant-skin-chain-on-feet-braid-fastened-with-snake-close-up-christies She has three bulging eyes and some protruding fangs. Her flaming hair and eyebrows are painted with orange pigment, her skull crown and jewellery are inlaid with hard stones. There is a garland of severed heads around her neck.

17th-c-tibet-palden-lhamo-sil-turq-15-cm-4-arms-oval-base-sword-skull-cup-spear-elephant-skin-chain-on-feet-braid-fastened-with-snake-patterned-skirt-flayed-human-skin-christies

The texts that describe Palden Lhamo sometimes mention a mule (as on the first picture) and sometimes a wild donkey (as on the second picture, or so it seems…).

 

 

Tibet, Palden Lhamo (3)

Same subject as above, at the Freer Sackler Gallery (USA).

15th century, Tibet, Densatil, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay and pigments,  at the Freer Sackler Gallery (USA).

We have seen this form of Palden Lhamo (Tibetan form of Shri Devi) in a previous post. Usually referred to as Dorje Rabtenma, she is easy to recognise as she brandishes a sword in her right hand and holds a jewel-spitting mongoose against her left hip.

15th-c-tibet-densatil-dorje-rabtenma-mongoose-detail-newar-artist-gilt-c-a-stonespig-572-cm-freer-sackler

She has the usual adornments, including a garland of severed human heads and a skull crown.

17th century, Tibet, Magzor Gyalmo, stone, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

17th century, Tibet, Magzor Gyalmo, stone, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Another form of the deiy also with one head and two hands, but holding a skull cup filled with blood in her left hand and riding her mule or kiang sideways. According to the texts, Magzor Gyalmo raises a sandalwood staff tipped with a vajra with her other hand but this one appears to hold a sword.

17th century, Tibet, Magzor Gyalmo, gilt metal, private collection, on Himalayan Art Resources.

17th century, Tibet, Magzor Gyalmo, gilt metal, private collection, on Himalayan Art Resources.

There is a sun disc over her navel and a crescent moon in her flaming hair. She wears a tiger skin loin cloth and uses the skin of her dead son as a saddle.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

On the last two images, her mule/donkey also wears a garland of severed heads.

18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, polychrome wood, private collection, published on astamangala.com

18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, polychrome wood, private collection, published on astamangala.com.

She usually wears a snake belt and snake jewellery.

Tibet, Palden Lhamo (2)

15th century, Tibet, from Densatil Monastery, Palden Lha-mo, gilt copper alloy inlaid with stones, published by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, from Densatil Monastery, labelled Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy inlaid with stones, published by Christie’s.

Palden Lhamo, the Tibetan form of Indian goddess Shri Devi, is the only female dharmapala (proctector of the faith) and the main protectress of Tibet, and patron saint of Lhasa. She has one head with three eyes, two or four hands, in which she holds various implements, usually including a flaming sword. She rides a mule or a kiang (wild donkey) and sits on her dead son’s hide. She wears a garland of freshly severed heads and a tiger skin around her waist. In her Dorje Rabtenma form, she holds a flaming sword and a mongoose that spits jewels, as the above figure, who is adorned with a beaded belt, stone-inlaid jewellery and a matching crown with a sun disc and moon crescent on top of the central panel.

16th century, Tibet, Sri Devi or Palden Lhamo, gilt c.a., at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

16th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, gilt copper inlaid with stones, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.