Machig Labdron (1055-1153), 'the One Mother, Lamp of the Lab' region of Central Tibet: founder of the Cho Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism surrounded by the teachers and deities of the 'Field of the Accumulation of Merit' (Tibetan: tsog shing).
Tibetan: Tsog shing Tibetan: Ma chig lab dron
White in colour with one face, three eyes and two hands she is beautiful, youthful and appears in the form of a wisdom dakini. Adorned with a tiara of five skulls, gold earrings, necklace, bracelets and a blue scarf, she holds upraised in the right hand a double-sided damaru (hand drum). In the left hand held at the hip is an upturned bell. She stands in a dancing posture above a moon disc and lotus blossom surrounded by a blue and gold nimbus and red areola. Immediately above is Green Tara. Seated at the right and left of Machig are her two sons - the main lineage holders of the Cho tradition. At the left is Tonyon Samdrup, holding a damaru in the upraised right hand and a bell in the left, wearing a red cap and monastic robes. At the right is Gyalwa Dondrup holding a damaru in the right hand and a bell at the heart with the left. Having long dark hair, white robes and a red meditation belt, he is attired in the garments of a yogi - lay practitioner. Slightly to the lower left of Tonyon Samdrup is Dorje Dronma, emanation of Machig and lineal family descendent of Gyalwa Dondrup. All are situated on a large throne atop a white cloud bank hovering above a dark blue pond.
Above forming a canopy, at the top center are five Vajrasattva like figures with consorts, each in a different colour representing the five buddha families, surrounded by the eight bodhisattvas. Below is the original great mother, Prajnaparamita, gold in colour with one face and four hands. The first two are placed in the mudra of meditation. The upper right holds a gold vajra and the left a book. Below are 'the buddhas of the three times surrounded by shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.' The buddha Shakyamuni is in the center with the buddha of the previous age on the left and the future buddha Maitreya on the right surrounded by hearers and realizers - all in monastic robes.
On a bank of clouds at the left side are the main gurus and lineage teachers of Cho and Shije (Cutting and Pacifying). This is not an actual sequential and chronological list but rather all of the important teachers from various lineages that practiced Cho, be it the oral tradition or the various Nyingma 'Treasure' traditions that arose later. At the center is the Indian Padampa Sanggye, brown in colour, holding a damaru and shinbone horn. Above is Padmasambhava and above that Vajradhara, blue in colour. Descending from left to right is Tilopa, Naropa, Lion's Speech Manjushri, Sukhasiddhi, Asanga, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Saraha, Virupa, Karma Pakshi, Dombi Heruka, Gya Nag Cherbu, (unidentified), (unidentified), (unidentified), Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, Cheton Darma, Gyagam Cherton, Kong Lo'i Zilnon and Kyoton Sonam Lama.
On the cloud bank at the right side is the group of tutelary deities. In the center is Vajravarahi, red, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup, standing in a dancing posture. Above is the wrathful activity dakini, Simhamukha, blue, with a white lion face. Standing above is Sahaja Chakrasamvara in heruka form, blue with one face and two hands holding a vajra and bell embracing the consort. Surrounding Vajravarahi are the 'Five Attractive Ones,' 'Five Dakinis,' 'Five Messengers' and the 'Five Dark Wrathful Ones.' In a variety of colours, peaceful and wrathful, each has one face and two hands.
Below the central Machig is a horizontal row of 'Ten Dakinis' and below that a row of eleven further lineage gurus. The bottom row comprises the protectors of the Cho Tradition. From left to right are Yellow Jambhala, Shang Lon, Aghora Mahakala, (unidentified), the dancing skeletons Shri Shmashana Adhipati, the principal protector Shadbhuja Mahakala, Shri Devi, Chang Shon, Tag Shon, Par Shon and Tsenmo Dradrog. Outside of the elaborate throne structure stand the Four Guardian Kings of the Directions: Virudhaka, Dhritarashtra, Virupaksha and Vaishravana.
At the bottom left corner is the protector Rahula, maroon, with nine faces and four hands standing above a triangular enclosure. At the right is Tsen Go (the Wild 'Tsen' Daemon), red in colour, with one face and two hands, riding a horse and dragging a corpse with a snare. At the right side is the peaceful Nyenchen Tang Lha, a Tibetan mountain deity, white, with one face and two hands riding a white horse. Again to the right is the naga princess Lumo Tseringma, white in colour with the lower body in the appearance of a coiled snake and the hands folded in the gesture of prayer.
At the upper left and right side two sets of five goddesses present offerings. At the bottom center a round torma (stylized food offering) atop a small table is flanked on each side with skullcups of various offerings. Both large and small versions of the field for the accumulation of merit are commonly found. The tradition of Cho, severing the four maras, is practiced to a greater or lesser degree by all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Most of the figures are accompanied by name inscriptions written in fine gold lettering to the side or below each. (Biographical details).
Jeff Watt 2-99