Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Machig Labdron

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 619)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Karma (Kagyu)
Size 54.61x39.37cm (21.50x15.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1998.4.11
Painting School Palpung / Situ
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Mahasiddha

Gender: Female

TBRC: bdr:P3312

Interpretation / Description

Machig Labdron (1055-1153), 'the One Mother:' founder of the Cho Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Ma chig lab dron Biographical Details

White in colour, with one face and two hands, she appears as a wisdom dakini. Peaceful with three eyes, a tiara of gold and jewels, gold earrings, bone ornaments, red hair ribbons and a green silk scarf, she holds upraised in the right hand a damaru (drum) resounding with the activities of Dharma. In the left hand upturned at the hip is a vajra-handled bell ringing with the silence of emptiness. Supported by the left leg with the right raised up she stands in a dancing posture above a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus blossom surrounded by a nimbus and areola of green light.

At the top center is the feminine personification of wisdom, orange Prajnaparamita, with one face and four hands seated peacefully in vajra posture. The first right hand is placed in the 'earth witness' mudra and the second upraised holding a gold vajra. The first left is placed in the mudra of meditation and the second holds aloft a folio book. Below that sits Shakyamuni buddha, gold in colour, with one face and two hands performing the mudras of 'earth witness' and meditation. At the left is a red hat lama of the Karma Kagyu (Kamtsangpa) School. Wearing the robes of a monk he holds the right hand in the mudra of blessing and the left in the mudra of generosity. At the right a lama wearing the attire of a monk and a pandita hat performs with the two hands at the heart in the mudra of Dharma Teaching while holding the stem of a pink lotus blossoming at the left shoulder and supporting a golden vase.

At the middle left is the Indian teacher Padampa Sanggye (11th century), the founder of the Shije, 'Pacifying' tradition, and the root guru to Machig Labdron. Dark brown in colour he has the appearance of a mahasiddha wearing bone ornaments, a skull crown and a red meditation belt. Held aloft in the right hand is a damaru and in the left a shinbone horn. Wishing jewels and offerings are laid out in front. At the right is the tutelary deity Vajravarahi, red, with one face and two hands holding a curved knife and skullcup with a katvanga staff against the left shoulder. Dancing on a sun disc and corpse she is surrounded by orange flames. Offerings are arranged in front. Directly below the central figure is Troma Nagmo - wrathful form of Vajravarahi, black, swinging a human skin in the right hand and holding a shinbone horn in the left.

At the bottom left is the wrathful protector Shadbhuja Mahakala with one face and six hands, standing atop the form of Ganesh. At the bottom center is the protector Chang Shon, black in colour, with one face and two hands riding a black wolf. At the right is the worldly protector Tsi'u Marpo, indigenous to Tibet and guardian of Samye Chokor Ling. He is red in colour, in the dress of a warrior with one face and two hands holding a spear and lasso, riding a red horse, accompanied by a red dog.

Jeff Watt 12-2000

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

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Teacher: Machig Labdron Main Page
Painting Style: Kham Region (Kham-ri)
Subject: Female Imagery Introduction
Subject: Guruyoga Iconography Page
Teacher: Machig Labdron (Palpung Style)