Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Sitatapatra (Buddhist Deity) - (1000 faces, 1000 hands)

གདུགས་དཀར། ནང་ལྷ། 大白伞盖佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 288)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Size 91.44x74.30cm (36x29.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Raised Gold on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.18.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Sitatapatra, Vajra Ushnisha (Tibetan: dor je tsug tor dug kar mo. English: The White Parasol, Crown Ornament of the of the Buddha).

Sanskrit: Sitatapatra Tibetan: Dug kar mo

White in colour with 1000 faces, 1000 hands, 1000 legs and 10,100,000 (ten million one hundred thousand) eyes, the main face in front is white, showing a fierce expression, with a wide gaping mouth and a further 199 white faces above. To the left is a vertical row of yellow faces, to the right is a vertical row of green faces. On both sides are red faces and on top appearing as a cap are 200 blue faces. Each face has three eyes and glares with a fierce expression. In the first pair of hands the right, extended downward, holds a Dharma Wheel and the left holds an arrow together with the gold handle of a parasol, held to the heart, unfurled above on the right side. She is adorned with various jewel ornaments, a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads each in a different colour and expression and a long snake necklace. As a lower garment she wears a fresh tiger skin skirt fastened with a belt of green silk.

A further 99 pairs of hands hold in the right a Dharma Wheel and an arrow in the left. The remaining 400 hands on the right hold a vajra, jewel, visvavajra (double vajra) and lotus, 100 of each object. The remaining 400 hands on the left hold a bow, flame tipped sword, lasso and hook, again 100 of each object. The first ten hands clearly display the objects as examples while the remaining 990 grow increasingly smaller with each outward concentric circle. Again, in the palm of each hand is a staring eye.

The 500 legs on the left side are extended above worldly deities and a host of animals and the legs on the right are bent and press down on all worldly troubles, daemons and animals. Standing above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus seat she is completely surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness, richly stylized and containing numerous wish-fulfilling jewels.

At the top center is a smiling lama, seated, wearing monastic robes and a yellow cap with red trim. With the right hand he holds the stem of a pink lotus to the heart which blossoms at the right ear and supports a vajra and bell. The left hand holds a long-life vase in the lap, richly attired in silk brocades. At both sides are five seated buddhas wearing monastic robes and performing various mudras.

At the bottom center is the peaceful long-life goddess Ushnishavijaya, white, with three faces and eight hands seated in vajra posture. She also was born from the ushnisha (crown protuberance) of the Buddha. On the left side, level with the lotus of the central figure, is the black wrathful deity Mahakala with one face and two hands holding a stick and skullcup, wearing long garments; standing on a corpse and lotus seat. The remaining 35 peaceful goddesses, in various colours, each have one face and two hands and hold a variety of objects and perform numerous mudras, seated on moon discs and lotus cushions. The 10 buddhas, Mahakala and the 35 goddesses form the mandala retinue of Sitatapatra.

The practice of Sitatapatra is common to both Nyingma and Sarma Traditions. According to the Sarma Schools she belongs to the Kriya Classification of Tantra.

Sarma Lineage: Buddha Tathagata, Ushnisha Sitatapatra, Vajrapani, Dasa Samadhi, Candragomin, Giravati, Vajra Tikshna, Padma Angkusha, Brahmin Ratna Vajra, Jetari, Vajrasana the Senior and Younger, Bari Lotsawa, Denma Kyura Akyab, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), etc.

Jeff Watt 6-98

Universal in form with one thousand heads, one thousand arms, and one thousand legs, her body is adorned with ten million eyes - all watching over the needs of human kind. She has five main faces in the four principal colors representing the four basic enlightened activities, along with the fifth face, green, the combination of all activities together. The white parasol held overhead symbolizes the gentle protection of a loving mother. Each of the hands hold special attributes; objects that symbolically represent a specific benefit. All obstacles of the individual person and those of the nation at large are depicted as trampled underfoot, preventing all misfortune, pestilence and war.

Universal White Parasol, a Buddha emanation, is similar in appearance to her male counterpart the All-seeing Lord (Avalokiteshvara) and the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu in their universal representations (vishvarupa) as they actively display a multitude of heads, arms and legs ? the conflation of all gods and powers fashioned into one supreme form

Jeff Watt 5-2005

Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Female Buddhas at RMA

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Deities (Female)
Buddhist Deity: Sitatapatra Main Page
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2