Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist) - Drala Brothers (Nine)

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 65613)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Warrior

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Dralha, the Nine Enemy God Brothers (Tibetan: dra lha che gu): Dralha is a class of indigenous gods inhabiting the Himalayas, Tibet and Central Asia. They are found in both the Bon and Buddhist religions. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dralha are said to have been subjugated and then forced into the service of Buddhism as worldly protector gods by the 8th century Indian teacher Padmasambhava.

At the top center is the wrathful Buddhist deity Vajrapani, blue in colour, with one face and two hands, surrounded by the orange and red flames of wisdom fire. Typically Vajrapani appears above worldly gods that have been converted to Buddhism.

At the center of the painting is Dralha Tatug Karpo, white in colour, with one face and two hands, dressed as a warrior and riding a white horse. The upraised right hand holds a whip made of a length of bamboo with three joints. Holding the reins in the left hand, he also supports a spear in the bend of the elbow. Surrounding the central figure are eight identical Dralha brothers.

Along the bottom of the painting are objects offerred to the gods; a palace, weapons, animals - domesticated and wild, animal pelts, musical instuments, jewels and bolts of cloth.

There are three common groups of Dralha represented in art: the Five Personal Gods which include a Dralha, the Nine Dralha Brothers and the Thirteen Dralha.

Jeff Watt 10-2006

Related Items
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Buddhist Protectors, Worldly Deities (Lokapala)
Tibetan Deity: Drala Brothers (Nine)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 4
Deity, Tibetan: Warrior Appearance (Drala)
Tibetan Deity: Drala, Nine Brothers
Region: Mongolia, Paintings (Miscellaneous Collections)
Collection of RMA: Mongolia (Painting Masterworks)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Mongolia