Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Sipai Gyalmo (Bon Protector) - 100 Faces, 1000 Hands (ugya chagtong)

སྲིད་པའི་རྒྱལ་མོ། བོན་གྱི་སྲུང་མ། 斯贝加母(苯教护法)
(item no. 70122)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1960 -
Material Ground Mineral Pigment
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Ugya Chagtong, Sipai Gyalmo (English: Queen of the World, Having a Thousand Heads and A Thousand Hands): principal female protector deity in the Bon Religion.

Video: Universal Deities

Immediately surrounding the central figure are various forms of Sipa'i Gyalmo accompanied by other protectors related and unrelated along with more minor worldly protectors and some borrowed from the Buddhist pantheon.

At the upper left and right corners of the composition are the Four Magical Menmo, blue, red, green and white: Namchi Gonggyal at the upper left, Yichi Gungsang below, Choma Yesang at the upper right, Nammen Karmo below. They are the Menmo of Magic in the Expanse of Primordial Wisdom, Menmo of the Natural Sky, Menmo of the Magical Space, and Emanated Menmo of Cause and Effect - the White Menmo of the sky. They ride atop a dragon, khyung, snow lion and a ram.

At the eft side of the composition are two of the Three Sentinel Ladies, Guardians of the World with the third located at the upper right side: Karmo Tsedag on the right, Mugmo Wangchug at the center, and Nagmo Kundrol on the left. They are known as the White Lady of Longevity, the Purple Lady of Power and the Black Lady who Liberated all Beings. They are mounted atop a bird, kyang and a khyung.

Typically there are two common forms of the deity Sipai Gyalmo, Riding a Black Mule and Riding a Red Mule. These two forms are identified by their three heads and six hands. The mules are black or red. The hand objects are different between the two forms. Four celestial beings hold up the hooves of the red mule.

In the Bon religion the Queen of the World is the most wrathful manifestation of the peaceful deity Loving Mother of Wisdom (T. Sherab Chamma). Fierce in appearance, black in color, she has three faces and six arms holding weapons and implements of power and control. The three right hands hold a victory banner, flaming sword and a peg. The left hands hold a trident, svastika wand, and a skullcup filled with blood. Each of these symbolically represents cutting the knots of illusion and rooting out the three poisons of greed, anger and delusion. Riding on a red mule, she sits atop a flayed human skin symbolizing impermanence while the brightly burning flames of wisdom fire surround her.

The Queen of the World is both a meditational deity and a protector. She is one of the most frequently propitiated figures in the Bon religion, and extends her protection to both religious practitioners and common people. Though horrific and wrathful in form she embodies the qualities of wisdom and compassion.

Jeff Watt 5-2005

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