Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shri Devi (Buddhist Protector) - Magzor Gyalmo

དཔལ་ལྡན་ལྷ་མོ། 吉祥天母(佛教护法)
(item no. 100641)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Publication: A Tale of Thangkas
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Female

TBRC: W19221

Interpretation / Description

Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo (Tibetan: pal den lha mo, mag gyi zor le, gyal mo. English: Glorious Goddess, the Queen who Repels Armies, or the Queen who has the power to turn back armies. Sanskrit: Shri Devi, Yakshi Remati): belonging to the larger class of enlightened protector deities known as Shri Devi. Magzor Gyalmo is regarded as a wrathful emanation of the peaceful goddess Sarasvati, popular in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Magzorma has two immediate attendant figures - one in front and one behind. Four additional retinue figures ride various mounts and are depicted in each of the four directions. They are the 'Queens of the Seasons' - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

"... Shri Devi Remati, Queen of the Army Repelling Weapons, riding a mule, blue-black in colour, with one face and two hands, having bared fangs and gnashing down on a human corpse. Possessing three round red eyes, and the forehead furrowed into a frown, brown hair flowing upwards with licks of flame and smoke issuing forth. The right ear is adorned with a poisonous snake and the left with a lion, crowned with five dry human skulls and a necklace of fifty blood dripping wet [heads] strung with intestines. ... having a lower garment of tiger skin, a snake belt and necklace, etc. The right hand holds to the sky a sandalwood stick marked with a vajra. The left holds to the heart a mustard seed and blood filled skullcup. ... At the level of the navel is a sun and at the crown of the head a crescent moon; above the head is a peacock parasol canopy." (Sharchen Champa Kunga Tashi 1558-1603, TBRC P778. Drub Tab Kun Tu vol.9, pp.606-607. TBRC W19221).

Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo (Tibetan: pal den lha mo, mag gyi zor le, gyal mo. English: Glorious Goddess, the Queen who Repels Armies, or the Queen who has the power to turn back armies. Sanskrit: Shri Devi, Yakshi Remati): belonging to the larger class of enlightened protector deities known as Shri Devi. Magzor Gyalmo is regarded as a wrathful emanation of the peaceful goddess Sarasvati, although popular in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the Buddhist deity is more properly known as Vajra Sarasvati and of a different entity and nature than the Hindu goddess Sarasvati. Within the Buddhist Tantric tradition Vajra Sarasavti is believed to be an enlightened deity while the Hindu form of the goddess is believed to be worldly in nature and not enlightened.

Amongst the many forms of Shri Devi, the specific form of Magzor Gyalmo, blue-black and wrathful, is recognized by having one face and two hands, holding aloft with the right hand a vajra tipped staff and in the left a skullcup held to the heart. She rides side-saddle atop a mule. Above her head is a large peacock feather parasol. In the Sakya and related Traditions there is a snake ornament for the right ear and a lion for the left. In the Gelug Tradition this is reversed and the lion is an ornament for the right and the snake for the left. According to the lunar calendar the special day for worship of Magzor Gyalmo is the 14th of the month.

At the top center is Vajradhara Buddha. At the right and left sides are Gelug teachers wearing monastic robes and yellow pandita hats.

Jeff Watt [4-2004]

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Buddhist Protector: Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo Main Page
Publication: A Tale of Thangkas