Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tsewang Rigdzin (Bon)

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 65130)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Bon
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Interpretation / Description

Tsewang Rigdzin and the consort Nyima Obar along with the six holy mountains of the Bon Religion. This depiction and accompanying meditation practices and rituals arise from a Bon Revealed Treasure text discovered by Terton Bonzhig Yungdrung Lingpa (1346-1405) considered by many to be identical to the Buddhist Terton Dorje Lingpa. (See the Tsewang Rigdzin Main Page for more images).

"E MA HO! In the middle on an unchanging everlasting [yungdrung] palace is a lion, elephant, horse, dragon and kyung [supported] throne. Above a lotus, sun, moon and corpse seat ... [appears] the form of Tsewang Rigdzin, maroon, naked, [seated] in a half posture, wearing a tiger skin, bone ornaments, silk ribbons, a flower ornament tied [in the hair], in a happy manner, gold earrings, bracelets [and armlets]. In the right [hand] is a wish fulfilling jewel satisfying all needs; in the left a power skull cup, orange inside, filled with the marvelous two accumulations; a treasure of power and attainments for devout followers, three eyes - staring to the sky characterizing the subduing of birth and death; unobstructed, cheerfully seated on a corpse, clearing the darkness with the spheres of the sun and moon, method and wisdom. Having a beautiful and flawless lotus seat throne of five [animals], the five poisons are self liberated."

"E MA HO! Then, on the left lap is the mother Kandroma Nyima Obar, secret consort, the nature of power - red in colour, naked, with jewels and bone ornaments. On the crown of the head is a pig face resounding with the sound of Truth [Bon]; the hair in a braid and wearing gold earrings. The right [hand holds] a curved knife embracing the Father; the left offers a blood [filled] skull cup."

"... [and appearing as] the circle of the Four Kandroma Families; with bodies white, green, red and blue in colour, hair in tufts, adorned with bone and jewel ornaments and flowing ribbons. The right [hands hold] curved knives and the left blood [filled] skull cups, cradling katvanga [staves and standing] in a dancing posture." [Tshe dbang bod yul ma, fol.302-322.]

At the top center is the combined deity depicting four separate personalities; Drenpa Namka - the father, Tsewang Rigdzin and Yungdrung Tongdrol - the twin brothers, and finally the consort embracing Drenpa Namka - the mother of the twins. In this Bonpo tradition Yungdrung Tongdrol is understood as identical to the important Buddhist figure Padmasambhava.

The three flying figures on the right side of the composition and the three on the left are six different emanations of Tsewang Rigdzin depicting his traveling to six holy mountains to benefit beings and overcome obstacles and malicious spirits. The six mountains are [1] Tise (Kailash), [2] Langchen Gyingri, [3] Pori Ngeden, [4] Yungdrung Sabten, [5] Shenri Deden, and [6] Chugmo Pari.

At the bottom left [viewer's right] is the principal Bon protector deity Sipai Gyalmo, black in colour, with three faces and six hands. In this form, unique to this Revealed Treasure text about Tsewang Rigdzin, she rides atop a Himalayan bear. Normally Sipai Gyalmo rides atop a red or black mule.

Jeff Watt February 14th, 2008

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Bon Teachers Main Page
Bon Teacher: Tsewang Rigdzin Main Page
Exhibition: Bon, The Magic Word (RMA 2007)
Teacher: Dorje Lingpa Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Bon Artworks
Subject: Geography (Sacred Bon Mountains)