Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist) - Lha Chenpo

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 618)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Size 35.56x53.34cm (14x21in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.6.1
Painting School Palpung / Situ
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Maha Deva (Tibetan: lha chen po, English: Great God): also known as Shiva - emanation of Avalokiteshvara.

"...Great God, Ishvara, with a body red in colour, like ruby, blazing with light. Having one face, two hands and three eyes, charming and passionate in appearance. In the right [hand] holding aloft a hook to gather the Three Realms and the left a lasso of wind. The hair is bound in a tuft decorated with a crescent moon. Adorned with silks and jewels, naked with a red linga, engorged and erect. The right leg is bent and the left extended in a standing posture. Embraced by the consort, Uma Devi, bright red, beautiful and affectionate. The right [hand] holds a conch shell vessel to the Father and the left a hook; adorned with jewels..." (Min-ling Lochen Dharmashri, 1654-1718. Tibetan source text part II, pp.364-365).

Bright red in colour with one face and two hands he is slightly fierce with three eyes and partially exposed canine teeth. The right hand holds upraised a hook, ornate and red, in the shape of an elephant goad decorated with jewels. The left holds outstretched an engorged red phallus and gold lasso. Adorned with a crown of gold and jewels, earrings and necklace he wears an orange and yellow scarf and a long garland of red flowers. The consort in similar appearance holds up a gold vase in the right hand and a mirror in the left, the shoulders covered with a blue scarf. Standing above a sun and moon disc atop a red lotus blossom they are surrounded by the subdued orange flames of pristine awareness. Arranged in front are rows of variously coloured wishing jewels, precious objects and bolts of cloth presented as an auspicious offering.

Above, wreathed in the flames of pristine awareness, atop a red lotus blossom is the powerful Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, red in colour, holding aloft in the right hand a black vajra sceptre. The left holds to the side a three pointed katvanga staff. Adorned with the lotus hat, earrings, necklace and a garland of heads he wears the robes of the Three Vehicles standing atop a corpse and sun disc.

"To the discerning pristine awareness body of all conquerors, emanation body of compassion of the powerful Avalokiteshvara, benevolent Lord of the World; Mahadeva together with consort, Uma, I pay homage." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

The practice of Mahadeva is a Revealed Treasure teaching (Tib.: Terma) unique to the Nyingmapa School.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Reverse of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: (Four line verse).

Special Features: (Cursive script (Umay))

Secondary Images
Related Items
Contributor: Cameron Bailey
Publication: Dojo Bumzang - Images
Bibliography: Protector Deities in Himalayan Art (Buddhist)

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Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Subject: Controversial Art Main Page
Buddhist Worldly Protector: Lha Chenpo (Masterworks)
Buddhist Worldly Protector: Lha Chenpo History
Buddhist Worldly Protector: Lha Chenpo Art History
Buddhist Protectors: Worldly (Nyingma)