Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist) - Pehar

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 551)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Gelug
Size 33.66x24.77cm (13.25x9.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.35.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Pehar Gyalpo (English: the King [Daemon named] Pehar), a Tibetan worldly deity subjugated by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Seated at the top center is the Fifth Dalai Lama and at the bottom the retinue attendant Dorje Dragden.

Extremely wrathful, Pehar is white in colour, with three faces and six hands. The right face is blue and left red. Each has three wide glaring eyes, a gaping red mouth with four large canine teeth shaped like scimitars and his orange hair bristles upward from beneath a round yellow hat. The first pair of hands hold a sword and stick, the second a bow and arrow and the third a vajra hook and knife. A dark silk cape adorns the upper body while the lower is wrapped with a tiger skin. Adorned with various jewel and bone ornaments he rides upon a white snow lion above a corpse, sun disc and pink lotus blossom within the swirling flames of the fire of pristine awareness.

Surrounding Pehar are four small attendant figures. To the left is a dancing sorcerer and below that a monk holding a staff and wearing a round hat. On the right is a warrior with a spear and shield and below that a black woman wearing pants. At the top center is Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama (1617-1682), wearing monastic robes and a yellow pandita hat, in a seated posture. The right hand holds the stem of a blossoming white lotus to the heart and the left cradles a golden Dharma wheel in the lap.

Dalai Lama Biographical Details

At the bottom center is Dorje Dragden, the chief minister in the retinue of Pehar. Red in colour, with one face and two hands he holds a trident lance in the upraised right and a lasso in the left, standing upon a corpse and sun disc. To the right and left are offering skullcups holding nectar and blood.

Although heavily filled with coloured pigment the artwork can still be classified as a 'black background' (Tib.: nag thang) painting.

Jeff Watt 7-98


Deity King Pehar.

King Pehar in absolute sense is an emanation of the five Buddhas and in ordinary (common) sense appears as a Deity, Protector Pehar. Here is his history: Many eons, many kalpas ago he was born as the King Damaraja of Asura coutry. At the same time another boy was born as a minister's son. They became good friends. Then they became monks, ordained by abbot Dawe ("moon light"). Damaraja's religious name was Dawe Shinu, his friend's religious name was Tunten Nagpo. Dawe Shinu became a scholar, who enjoyed teaching Dharma, his friend enjoyed meditating. One day Dawe Shinu went to visit a Hindu Temple where he met a beautiful girl named Zitan Metog Ke. Extremely strong desire arose in him toward her. They made love in the Temple. Dawe Shinu broke his vows. They were making love in the Temple for 7 days. His friend, monk Tunten Nagpo came there trying to stop them, but he could not. Dawe Shinu got angry and turned himself into a wild lion and threatened his friend, trying to kill him. Vajrapani protected Tunten Nagpo with His Vajra. Later Dawe Shinu died and he was born in hell, where his name was the Buthcher's horse and where he had suffered a lot. Then he was reborn as a human being, but he was very poor and homeless and he was wandering around. One day he met again his former friend Tunten Nagpo and they did not like each other. Then Dawe Shinu was born in the family of king Muche Tsampo and queen Lumo Tongon. His name was Vajra Kuhe Samati. Again, Tunten Nagpo was meditating in the cave and Vajra Kuhe Samati turned himself into a rat, trying to disturb his former friend. Again, Vajprapani protected Tunten Nagpo. Then Vajra Kuhe Samati (Dawe Shinu) was born as a son of Dudje Tsempo, the king of ancient demons. His name in this rebirth was Mudu Tankhar. His father had five children and he was the third son. Present King Pehar is a reincarnation of Mudu Tankhar. King Pehar has three faces, six arms and he is riding a lion. He is known as a King of Trinle, King of Action. However, when Guru Rinpoche and the Tibetan King Trisum Detsen built the Samye monastery, Guru Rinpoche invited this Deity, King Pehar, from the place, called Petahor. Guru Rinpoche gave him a wife, Mentsun Karmo, and another girlfriend. They built a place for King Pehar in the Northen side of Samye monastery. Even today there is a room called Peharchok. Guru Rinpoche invited many other Deities as well and built many temples for them around Samye. Pehar's temple is called the Turquoise Palace. His wife is Mentsun Karmo. This is the history of King Pehar.

There are five aspects of Pehar: The Body, Mind, Speech, Knowledge and Activity aspects. The Mind aspect (Tuk ki Gyalpo) of Pehar is brown color with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding a red spear, his left hand is holding a double-edged sword and a lasso. He is wearing a bear skin chale and a black turban. He is riding an elephant, in the midst of fire. The Body aspect (Ku?i Gyalpo) of Pehar is dark blue, with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding a vajra and is left hand is holding a single cymbal. He wears a round hat (tipshu) shaped like a cymbal, gold color, and is riding a black bear. The Knowledge aspect (Yonten kyi Gyalpo) of Pehar is black, with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding an ax, his left a demon?s lasso. He is wearing a tiger skin chale and a black snake skin, and is riding a dragon. The Speech aspect (Sung gi Gyalpo) of Pehar is dark brown, with one face and two arms. His right hand is holding a stick, his left hand a sandal wood club. He wears a black robe and is riding an iron wolf. The Activity aspect (Thinley gyi Gyalpo) of Pehar is navy blue, with three faces and six arms. His first right hand holds a hook, the second an arrow and the third a sword. His first left hand is holding a razor sharp knife, the second a bow and the third a stick. He wears a cymbal-shaped hat, a white chale, tiger skin and leopard skin skirt and is riding a snow lion.

L. Kunga Rinpoche 2/99

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