Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist)

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 60260)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Karma (Kagyu) and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Karma Tansung: a 'gyalpo' spirit subjugated by Tai Situ Pema Nyingje (1774-1853) and made into a worldly protector deity of Palpung Monastery of the Karma Kagyu Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Another informant has stated that the protector was subjugated by the 11th Tai Situ, Pema Wangchug Gyalpo (1886-1952). The history of Karma Tansung requires further research.

The protector is known by a number of different names: Karma Tansung, Padma Tankyong, Padma Tansung, Ko Shong Go, and Palpung Kor Dag. (See more on Tibetan Spirits).

Karma Tansung is slightly wrathful, with bulging eyes, biting down on the lower lip, a large bald forehead, attired in the garb of a monk, the head surrounded by a halo of flames. In the right hand he holds a long staff adorned with a flaming blue jewel. The left hand holds upraised a larger flaming blue jewel. In a standing posture, on a rocky outcropping, he is surrounded by objects of wealth: gold, silver, red coral, bolts of cloth, multi-coloured jewels and two mongoose in front. It is said that Karma Tansung typically holds a bag in the left containing a unique object.

The name inscription at the side of the figure is clear but the full meaning of the sentence is not. It is possible that it reads in translation 'Karma Tansung [based on a] a vision of Chogling' meaning Chogyur Lingpa.

At the top left is Katog Tsewang Norbu wearing the garments of a lay teacher and a Nyingma hat. He holds vajra scepter to the heart with the right hand and a kila peg in the left. At the top right is Situ Chokyi Jungne wearing the robes of a monastic and the typical red hat of his incarnation lineage. In the right and left hands are a vajra and bell. There is a name inscription below each figure. It is not apparent why these two figures from the 18th century are placed at the top of this painting when the central figure was not even envisioned until the 19th century at the earliest.

Jeff Watt 3-2011

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: Katog Tsewang Norbu. Situ Chokyi Jungne. Karma Tansrung ...

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: rig 'dzin tse dbang nor bu. si tu chos kyi 'byung gnas. ka rma stan srung mchog gling gzigs snang.

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Protector Deity Glossary (Buddhist)

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Karma Tansung
Subject: Monks as Deities & Retinue Figures (Battle Monks & Protectors)