Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist) - Dorje Dragtsen

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 707)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug
Size 83.82x58.42cm (33x23in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.48.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Dorje Dragtsen (English: Vajra Violent Daemon) and retinue: a local god of Tibet converted into a protector of Buddhism. He was the special protector of Drula Chode Monastery in Kongpo founded by Dawa Zangpo [TBRC P7759], a student of Gendun Drub, the 1st Dalai Lama (1391-1474 [TBRC P80]). The inscription on the back of the painting was written by Purbu Chog Ngagwang Champa (1682-1762 [TBRC P108]).

Tibetan: Dor je trag tsen

Wildly fierce in appearance, blue in colour, he has one face and two hands, three round eyes, a gaping mouth with bared fangs and yellow hair flowing upward. The right hand holds upraised a red stick with half-vajras at both ends, in the left outstretched a snake lasso, adorned with a crown of five dry skulls, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, a long snake necklace and a garland of fifty freshly severed heads. Wearing a human skin across the shoulders and a tiger skin below, he rides atop a great writhing green snake, surrounded by brightly burning orange licks of flame.

At the top center is the great abbot Khenchen Dawa Zangpo (15th century) with the right hand performing the gesture of explication and the left placed in the lap holding a folio book. Wearing the robes of a monk and a yellow pandita hat, he sits on a cushion seat with the head framed by a pink aureole. At the left is the meditational deity, in solitary heruka form, Vajrabhairava, blue, with one buffalo face and two hands placed at the heart holding a curved knife and skullcup. Attired in all the wrathful vestments, he stands on the back of a grey buffalo and human figure surrounded by the flames of pristine awareness. At the right is the wrathful protector 'Outer' Yama Dharmaraja, special to the Vajrabhairava teachings. Blue in colour with a buffalo face and two hands, he holds outstretched in the right a fused spine and skull stick and in the left a lasso. Standing atop a buffalo seat he is surrounded by wisdom flames.

At the bottom left is the Father Ralpa Tsar Gu, blue, with one face and two hands holding a razor aloft with the right and a skullcup in the left. Adorned with a single skull headdress the bright orange hair falls in plaits to the sides. Wearing a human skin as an upper garment and tiger skin below he rides on the back of a blue-grey buffalo. At the right side is the Mother Srinmo Sothar, maroon in colour, with one face and two hands holding in the right a long curved knife and a skullcup in the left. Adorned and attired similar to the Father she wears variously coloured brocade garments below and rides on the back of a tiger, snarling with a gaping mouth. At the center is Dong Tsen, red, with one face and two hands holding upraised a sword and a treasure vase held against the hip with the left. Elaborately adorned with ornaments, a golden cane riding hat and variously coloured brocade garments and boots, he rides on a light brown horse - the favorite mount of 'tsen' daemons. Rocky outcroppings and wild landscapes frame the sides. Small figures of humans and animals are interspersed throughout.

The gold hand print on the reverse of the painting is that of Kalzang Gyatso (1708-1757), the 7th Dalai Lama as well as the short written text at the top of the composition.

The large black written text surrounding the hand print is a torma offering ritual written by Purbachog Ngagwang Champa (1682-1762)[TBRC P108]) according to the request of Yeshe Tenpa'i Dronma (Changkya Rolpa'i Dorje (1717-1786 [P182]).


Famed for Wisdom and kindness widespread,
Holder of the tantra and sutra teachings of Tsongkapa,
Displaying the pure mind as various great beings,
To the feet of Dawa Zangpo, I pray.

Jeff Watt 5-99 [updated 4-2017]

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: Vajra Terrifier. Homage to the Great Abbot Dawa Zangpo. Avowed King of the Law. Vajra Violent Daemon. The Father with Nine Plaits of Clotted Hair. The One with the Face of a Tsen [daemon]. The Mother Toothless Raksha [daemon].

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: Rdor rje ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''jig byed, mkhan chen zla ba bzang po la na mo, dam can cho rgyal, rdor rje drag btsan, yab ral pa mtshar dgu, gdong btsan, yum srin mo so thar.

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Eternal Presence

Thematic Sets
Painting Type: Black Ground Masterworks
Collection of RMA: Black Ground Masterworks
Collection of RMA: Black Ground Masterworks (Curator's Selection)
Subject: Mountain Gods & Local Deities
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page
Collection of RMA: Historically Important Works
Collection of RMA: Iconographically Rare Works
Buddhist Protectors, Worldly Deities (Lokapala)