Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Parnashavari (Buddhist Deity) - (three faces, six hands)

རི་ཁྲོད་མ་ལོ་མ་གྱོན་མ། ནང་ལྷ། 叶衣佛母(佛教本尊)
(item no. 434)
Origin Location China
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug
Size 46.99x31.75cm (18.50x12.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.10.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Three Families Parnashavari (Tibetan: ri tro ma rig sum, lo ma gyun ma. English: the Mountain Ascetic - Wearing Leaves), the goddess who protects from contagious illness according to the Segyu lineage. (See the Parnashavari Main Page and Outline Page).

Tibetan: Lo ma gyun ma

Natural in colour (yellow), she has three faces and six hands. The main face is slightly peaceful and wrathful with three eyes and the hair tied with a snake in a topknot on the crown of the head. The red face on the left is in a desirous mood and the white face on the right is peaceful. The first pair of hands hold a gold vajra and a vajra lasso held to the heart. In the second pair is a vajra axe upraised in a manner of striking and a fan of fresh leaves and in the lower pair of hands is an arrow and bow. Adorned with gold and jewel ornaments, a circlet of fresh leaves around the neck and a long snake necklace she wears an upper silk scarf gray in colour. The lower body is covered with a thatched skirt of fresh leaves tied with a yellow silk ribbon. With the right knee pressing on the sun disc and lotus seat she sits in a kneeling posture. A dark green aureola frames the faces and a blue-pink nimbus surrounds the entire form.

At the top center is a lama wearing monastic robes and a yellow cap contrasted against a pink aureola. In the typical appearance of the 1st Panchen Lama, Lobzang Chokyi Gyaltsen, he performs the Dharma Teaching mudra (gesture) holding a vajra and bell with the two hands at the heart; richly attired in silk brocades, resting on a cushion with an ornate backrest.

At the lower left is red Speech-Parnashavari with a black and white face to each side. On the lower right is black Mind-Parnashavari with a red and white face to each side. In the same appearance as the central figure, Body-Parnashavari, they both hold the same objects in the hands. (Source - Drup Thab Kun Tus, vol. pa, fol.35).

At the bottom center is Shadbhuja Mahakala (the Great Black One with Six Hands). Holding various wrathful objects he stands above the white supine form of elephant headed Ganapati, a sun disc and pink lotus flower, completely surrounded by the raging fires of pristine awareness.

The background portrays a lush green landscape rich with various offerings of wish-fulfilling jewels and auspicious objects arranged as offerings petitioning the special healing favours of the deities.

Parnashavari belongs to the Kriya class of tantra and is specifically employed in the eradication of contagious disease. Various lineages of practice are found in both the Nyingma and Sarma schools.

Jeff Watt 6-98

Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Female Buddhas at Bruce Museum of Art

Thematic Sets
Painting Style: Qianlong Period Painting Style
Buddhist Deity: Parnashavari (Yellow, Three Faces)
Buddhist Deity: Parnashavari Iconography
Buddhist Deity: Parnashavari Religious Context
Buddhist Deity: Parnashavari (Painting Masterworks)
Subject: Miscellaneous Deities (Buddhist)
Subject: Health, Healing & Longevity Page
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Painting Style: Country
Buddhist Deity: Deities (Female)
Buddhist Deity: Parnashavari Main Page