Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shenlha Okar (Bon Deity)

གཤེན་ལྷ་ འོད་དཀར། བདེར་གཤེགས་གཙོ་བོ་བཞིའི་ནང་ཚན། 辛拉沃噶(苯教四大如来之一)
(item no. 200013)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Bon
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1999.36.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Shenlha Okar Tsog Shing: the field of deities for the accumulation of merit. The lineage of Accomplished Ones is seated above with monastic and ascetic lineage lamas at the top center, upper right and left. This composition was designed by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859 -1933), based on a personal visionary experience. (See the Bon Refuge Field Main Page and Shenlha Okar Main Page).

Located in the center is the great deity Shenlha Okar, white in colour with one face and two hands, peaceful in appearance. The two hands are placed in the lap in the gesture of meditation. Adorning the head is a crown of gold and jewels, red ribbons tied at the sides. The body is decorated with gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets and anklets. A green scarf is draped across the shoulders and unfurls at the sides and the lower body is covered with a skirt of multi-coloured silks. Atop a white moon disc and pink lotus blossom, above a snow lion supported throne, he sits surrounded by a dark blue nimbus and green aureole. The backdrop of white snow lions, golden dragons, pink makaras and a garuda with wings outstretched at the top prevent the arising of obstacles.

In the small rainbow sphere at the upper left is a central Enlightened Conqueror surrounded by eight others in the same appearance. This represents the refuge of Sanggye. Between the two spheres and beneath the chortens are colourful square books. This represents the refuge of Bon. In the small rainbow sphere at the upper right is a Conquering Hero surrounded by eight others. This is the refuge of Sempa.

At the right of Shelha Okar are the principal meditational deities of Bon: Magyu, Walse Ngampa, Gekho, Meri, Purba, Tagla Membar and the like. At the right side are the kandroma of the Elements and below are the enlightened wisdom protectors with Yeshe Walmo in the center, blue, wrathful, with one face and two hands holding a sword upraised and a long-life vase to the heart; accompanied by Sipai Gyalmo and others. All of these figures are contained in the large rainbow sphere.

At the top, right and left, gathered on banks of clouds are lamas and ascetics of the various Bon lineages. At the very top right and left are the four goddesses of the seasons riding on the animals of the four directions; garuda, snow lion, dragon and a white yak.

The foreground of mountains and green valleys are filled with opulent wealth and auspicious symbols arranged as an offering and proffered to the Field of Merit. Small figures, monastic and lay, perform oblations.

Jeff Watt & Lee Hartline 1-2000

Numbered List:
A. Bon Lineage Teachers
B. Bon Lineage Teachers
C. Bon Lineage Teachers
1. Shenlha Okar
2. Sanggye, Enlightened Ones
3. Sempa, Ones Aspiring for Enlightenment
4. Meditational Deities
5. Kandroma, Sky Travelers
6. Protector Deities

The blue colour between the Sanggye and Sempa spheres highlights the religious texts and chortens representing the actual teachings and realizations of Bon.

The green colour highlights the special throne-back decoration that originated with Tonpa Shenrab in his form and narrative of Nampar Gyalwa.

Jeff Watt 1-2012

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Subject: Figures & Subjects in Circles
Bon: Artworks (All)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 9
Bon: Miscellaneous
Bon: Refuge Field Main Page (Field of Accumulation)
Exhibition: Bon, The Magic Word (RMA 2007)
Subject: Refuge Field Main Page
Bon Deity: Shenlha Okar
Subject: Refuge Field Iconography
Subject: Greyscale - Figurative & General Composition
Bon: Refuge Field (Shardza Design)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Bon Artworks