Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Chitipati/Shri Shmashana Adhipati (protector)

དུར་ཁྲོད་བདག་པོའི་ཡབ་ཡུམ། སྲུང་མ། 双身尸陀林主 (佛教 护法)
(item no. 302)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Size 59.06x43.18cm (23.25x17in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.19.7
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Shri Shmashana Adhipati, Father-Mother (Tibetan: pal dur tro gyi dag po yab yum. English: The Glorious Lords of the Pyre, Father-Mother). Also referred to as Chitipati.

Sanskrit: Chitipati Tibetan: Dur tro dag po

In skeletal form, white in colour they each have one face with three red glaring eyes and two hands. The Father on the left holds aloft a bone stick with the right hand and in the left a blood filled skullcup held to the heart, wearing a tiger skin, standing on a conch shell. The Mother holds a stalk of grain in the upraised right and a wealth vase in the left, wearing various silks, standing on a cowrie shell. Both are adorned with a tiara of five dry skulls, ear ornaments and green silk scarves, dancing on one leg above a sun disc and multi-coloured lotus surrounded by the orange flames of pristine awareness.

At the top left is the wrathful deity Vajrapani, blue in colour, holding a vajra and lasso. At the right is White Tara, deity of long-life, performing the mudra of generosity with the right hand and holding a lotus blossom with the left.

Arranged in front below the central figures are three wrathful 'torma' offerings (stylized food) in a black bowl. Two skullcups at the sides contain various wrathful offerings. At the bottom left is the wealth deity Jambhala, yellow in colour, holding a bijapuraka fruit in the right hand and a jewel spitting mongoose in the left, seated in a relaxed posture. Numerous wish-fulfilling jewels are scattered below. At the right is the wealth deity Vasudhara, yellow, holding a wealth vase in the right hand and a stalk of grain in the left; seated in vajra posture with jewels strewn in front.

The painting belongs to the Gelugpa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The lower garments of tiger skin, silks and unique hand objects are changes made by various Gelugpa teachers and are not described in the root Tantra text of this deity. The shoulder coverings, an artistic elaboration, are also found in painting traditions associated with the Gelug School. The unique hand objects and the two wealth deities seated at the bottom reveal Adhipati's function as both a wealth deity and a Dharma protector.

Adhipati originates with the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras (Wisdom-Anuttarayoga classification) and specifically from the Secret Essence Wheel Tantra, primarily employed as a wealth practice, but also used as a protector when associated with the meditational deity 'Naro Khechari' Vajrayogini. Shri Adhipati was popularized by the early Sakya School and later adopted into the Gelugpa tradition.

Jeff Watt 5-98

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Protectors: Enlightened
Buddhist Protector: Shmashana Adhipati Religious Context
Buddhist Protector: Shmashana Adhipati (Chitipati)
Tradition: Gelug Protectors
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Buddhist Protector: Shmashana Adhipati (Gelug)