|Date Range||1800 - 1899|
|Lineages||Nyingma and Kagyu|
|Material||Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton|
|Collection||Rubin Museum of Art|
|Catalogue #||acc.# F1996.10.2|
Tseringma, (Tibetan: ta shi tse ring ma che nga. English: Auspicious Mistress of Long-life - Five Sisters).
The central figure, Tseringma, is white in colour with one face and two hands. The right holds upraised a gold vajra and the left placed at the heart cradles a gold long-life vase. Youthful in appearance, adorned with gold ornaments and various coloured garments, she rides the mythical white snow lion of Tibet; white with a green mane and fringe.
In the upper left corner is 'Ting gyi Shal Zangma' (Fair Blue-faced One), blue in colour, holding a mirror in the right hand and a stick with fluttering silk streamers in the left - riding on a wild ass. At the right is 'Miyo Lozangma' (Immovable Noble Mind), yellow in colour, offering savory foods with the right hand and holding a gold bowl filled with foodstuffs in the left - riding on a large young tiger.
At the bottom left is 'Tekar Drozangma' green in colour clutching a bunch of 'durva' grass in the right hand and a snake lasso in the left - riding on a blue dragon which grasps wish-fulfilling jewels in the claws. At the bottom right is 'Chopen Drinzangma' red in colour holding a treasure chest in the right hand and a wish-fulfilling jewel in the left - riding on a hornless stag. These five together are known as the Five Long-life Sisters; all attired in variously coloured silk garments and gold jewelry. At the bottom center is the Direction Guardian Vaishravana, yellow, with one face and two hands holding a victory banner in the right and a mongoose in the left - riding a snow lion.
The name of each figure is written below in Tibetan 'u-chen script' executed in fine gold lettering. Many characteristics of the painting show an Eastern Tibetan and Chinese influence such as the background landscape, colours and the dragon mount.
A Short History: As Tibetan mountain spirits living on the Tibet-Nepal border the Five Long-life Sisters belong to the 'sman' class of worldly deities. Subjugated by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century they became avowed protectors for Buddhism. They traveled to India and received further Buddhist instruction in the 'Dark Noisy' charnel ground from the teacher 'Lobpon Chog gyi Gocha' and mahasiddha Kanha. In the 11th century, wishing to test the resolve of the great yogi Milarepa they created apparitions for the purpose of distracting him from meditation. Unable to cause any real harm due to the vows made to Guru Rinpoche they failed and three days later returned and humbled themselves before the yogi Milarepa. Again vowing to protect the Buddhist Dharma they offered up their life-essence in the form of mantras. Requesting teachings, he bestowed the 'Enlightenment Thought,' and various Vajrayana practices along with candali and mudra yoga; the two special practices of the Hevajra Tantra. Some months later, at the same location, the Tseringma sisters returned and requested detailed instructions on the practice of 'Karma mudra' which Milarepa consented to give. These are the three encounters between Milarepa and Tseringma. From the students of Milarepa arose many diverse lineages of practice which have permeated through all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism down to the present day.
Jeff Watt 5-98
Front of Painting
Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: mthing zhal bzang ma, mi gyo blo bzang ma, ngo mo bkra isa thse ring ma, rta dkar 'gro bzang ma, snam sras, spyod pan 'grin bzang ma.