Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Walse Ngampa (Bon Deity)

དབལ་གསས་རྔམ་པ། བོན། ཡིད་དམ་དྲག་པོ། 瓦赛恩巴(苯教五大本尊之一)
(item no. 200008)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Bon
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1998.13.16
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Walse Ngampa (Tibetan: dbal gsas rngam pa): fierce Tutelary Deity from the Five Supreme Ones of Father Tantra - specifically representing the Body aspect. At the top are the Celestial Conquerors, at the sides are the chief Bon tutelary deities and below are the various protector deities, supreme and mundane.

Wrathful in appearance, blue-black in colour, with nine faces and 18 hands, the three main faces are blue, white and red. Each face has three eyes. Above, the middle faces are that of a white snow lion, tiger and leopard. Above that at the top is a red garuda (King of Birds), dragon and makara (sea creature). Dark yellow hair, flame-like in form surrounds the group of nine heads. The two main hands placed at the heart hold a purba (peg) and embrace the consort. With one face, two hands and dark of colour, she wears a leopard skin skirt. The remaining sixteen hands of Welse are extended to the sides holding weapons, animals and miscellaneous objects. The main faces are adorned with skull crowns, earrings and necklaces of bone and freshly severed heads. Bracelets and bone ornaments decorate the body. A human skin covers the back and a tiger skin is wrapped about the waist. Leaning to the left with the leg bent and the right straight, above two naked figures, a sun disc, multi-coloured lotus and square throne supported by a snow lion, elephant, horse, dragon and bird, he is surrounded by brightly burning orange and red flames of wisdom. In front, an offering of the five senses is proffered in an upturned white skullcup topped with a decoration of a black ribbon.

At the top center is Kuntu Zangpo (All Good), black, with a yellow consort. At the left is Kunzang Gyalwa Dupa (All Good Gathering of Conquerors), white in colour, with five faces and ten hands, peaceful in appearance and seated. Along the top are the Celestial Conquerors, peaceful, in various colours, each embracing a consort. Below that are various forms of Tonpa Shenrab and deity figures. Below that are the Khandromas (Sky Goers) of the Natural Elements. Each stands in a dancing posture with the right leg raised. The right hand holds a curved knife and the left a skullcup. A trident staff rests against the left shoulder.

At the middle left are various tutelary deities such as Magyu, Meri and others. At the right are Purba, Tagla Membar and the like. Slightly below the throne is the solitary lama figure of Nyamme Sherab Gyaltsen, wearing monastic robes and a Bon religious hat. A group of three lama figures sit close by gazing in the direction of the single lama.

The bottom is filled with the prominent wisdom and worldly protectors of Bon, the various forms of Sipa'i Gyalmo, Nege Jampa and many more.

Sipai Gyalmo: principal female protector deity in the Bon Religion. In this painting most of the common and uncommon forms of the deity are present. At the center of the small cluster of Sipai Gylmo forms is Ugya Chagtong with one thousand faces and one thousand hands. Surrounding her are the various forms of the goddess that ride mules. At the bottom left is a rare form of Sipai Gyalmo where she appears with one face and two hands riding a white bird.

Typically there are two common forms of the deity Sipai Gyalmo, Riding a Black Mule and Riding a Red Mule. These two forms are identified by their three heads and six hands. The mules are black or red. The hand objects are different between the two forms. Four celestial beings hold up the hooves of the red mule.

In the Bon religion the Queen of the World is the most wrathful manifestation of the peaceful deity Loving Mother of Wisdom (T. Sherab Chamma). Fierce in appearance, black in color, she has three faces and six arms holding weapons and implements of power and control. The three right hands hold a victory banner, flaming sword and a peg. The left hands hold a trident, svastika wand, and a skullcup filled with blood. Each of these symbolically represents cutting the knots of illusion and rooting out the three poisons of greed, anger and delusion. Riding on a red mule, she sits atop a flayed human skin symbolizing impermanence while the brightly burning flames of wisdom fire surround her.

The Queen of the World is both a meditational deity and a protector. She is one of the most frequently propitiated figures in the Bon religion, and extends her protection to both religious practitioners and common people. Though horrific and wrathful in form she embodies the qualities of wisdom and compassion.

Jeff Watt & Lee Hartline 1-2000 [updated 5-2005]

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