Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shri Devi (Buddhist Protector) - Magzor Gyalmo

དཔལ་ལྡན་ལྷ་མོ། 吉祥天母(佛教护法)
(item no. 77207)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Publication: Wisdom Publications, Calender
Catalogue # collection of L. Fournier
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Female

TBRC: bdr:W19221

Interpretation / Description

Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo (Tibetan: pal den lha mo, mag gyi zor le, gyal mo. English: Glorious Goddess, the Queen who Repels Armies, or the Queen who has the power to turn back armies. Sanskrit: Shri Devi, Yakshi Remati): belonging to the larger class of enlightened protector deities known as Shri Devi. Magzor Gyalmo is regarded as a wrathful emanation of the peaceful goddess Sarasvati, popular in both Hinduism and Buddhism. This is one of two early examples of Magzor Gyalmo in painting.

Video: Two Early Magzor Gyalmo Paintings (HAR on Patreon)

The composition follows the style of far Western Tibet and most probably from the Guge Kingdom centered at the town of Tsaparang.

"... Shri Devi Remati, Queen of the Army Repelling Weapons, riding a mule, blue-black in colour, with one face and two hands, having bared fangs and gnashing down on a human corpse. Possessing three round red eyes, and the forehead furrowed into a frown, brown hair flowing upwards with licks of flame and smoke issuing forth. The right ear is adorned with a poisonous snake and the left with a lion, crowned with five dry human skulls and a necklace of fifty blood dripping wet [heads] strung with intestines. ... having a lower garment of tiger skin, a snake belt and necklace, etc. The right hand holds to the sky a sandalwood stick marked with a vajra. The left holds to the heart a mustard seed and blood filled skullcup. ... At the level of the navel is a sun and at the crown of the head a crescent moon; above the head is a peacock parasol canopy." (Sharchen Champa Kunga Tashi 1558-1603, TBRC P778. Drub Tab Kun Tu vol.9, pp.606-607. TBRC W19221). The textual source for Magzor Gyalmo is the Dakinyagnijihajvala Tantra, Dege Kanjur, volume 98, pp.223-253 found in the Nyingma Tantra section, vol.3. TBRC w22084.

At the top of the composition seated to the sides of the peacock parasol are four teachers wearing yellow pandita hats and monastic garb. At the top right side is the Tibetan worldly protector, Tashi Tseringma, according to the Kagyu tradition, white in colour with one face and two hands. The right holds upraised a gold vajra and the left placed at the heart cradles a gold long-life vase. Youthful in appearance, adorned with gold ornaments and various coloured garments, she rides the mythical white snow lion of Tibet. Descending at the top left side are the four accompanying sisters. The first is 'Ting gyi Shal Zangma' (Fair Blue-faced One), blue in colour, holding a mirror in the right hand and a stick with fluttering silk streamers in the left - riding on a wild ass. Below that is 'Miyo Lozangma' (Immovable Noble Mind), yellow in colour, offering savory foods with the right hand and holding a gold bowl filled with foodstuffs in the left - riding on a large young tiger. Below that is 'Tekar Drozangma' green in colour clutching a bunch of 'durva' grass in the right hand and a snake lasso in the left - riding on a blue dragon which grasps wish-fulfilling jewels in the claws. Below that is 'Chopen Drinzangma' red in colour holding a treasure chest in the right hand and a wish-fulfilling jewel in the left - riding on a hornless stag. These five together are known as the Five Long-life Sisters; all attired in variously coloured garments and jewelry.

At the front of the mule is Makaramukha, with the head of a water monster, holding the reins. Behind the mule and bringing up the rear is Simhamukha with the head of a lion. In the foreground of the composition, below the central figure, are the four direction attendant figures called the Goddesses of the Four Seasons: the Queen of the Summer, red in colour, the Queen of Autumn, yellow in colour, the Queen of Spring, blue in colour, and the Queen of Winter, riding atop a Bactrian camel. At the lower right side is 'Outer' Yama Dharmaraja, a protector deity with the head of a buffalo. At the lower left side is a seated donor figure wearing the attire of a Buddhist monastic. Two small shrine tables are topped with various offering bowls.

The Gelug tradition compositions create both simple and complex iconographic programs for Magzor Gyalmo. In her full configuration she has the two special attendants [2] Makaramukha and [3] Simhamukha, [7] the Goddesses of the Four Seasons, [12] the Five Tseringma Sisters, and the [24] Twelve Goddesses of Tibet. The Sakya, Ngor and Jonang Traditions rarely appear to group the Five Tseringma Sisters, or the Twelve Goddesses of Tibet with Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo. It appears to be a popular Gelug practice.

Teachers of the Zhang, Mu and Sakya Lineages: Vajradhara, [Guhyapati Varapani], Pandita Lawa Marpo, [Pandita Sherab Salwa], Che Jungne Zangpo, Nub Gyalwa Yeshe, Shang Chogdru Sherab Lama, Se Sangha Bhadra, Se Palchen Odpo, Se Shang Dode Tsemo, Shang Dingriwa Nyima Drag, Tenzangwa Rinchen Namgyal, Samlingpa Sanggye Jungwa, Jamyang Khonton Tugje Rinchen, Jangsem Rinchen Gonpo, Choje Nyima Shenyen, Choje Konchog Pal Zangpo, Jetsun Jamyang Gonpo, Bodongpa Jamyang Raltri, Namkha Monlam, Je Namkhai Nyingpo, Je Namkha Gyaltsen, Chagyurwa Sonam Sengge, Yang Gonpa Palden Tashi, Ngag Chang Kunga Rinchen, Ngorchen Konchog Palden, Sharchen Champa Kunga Tashi, Sharchen Sherab Jungne, Sharpa Yeshe Zangpo, Kedrub Sanggye Puntsog.

Jeff Watt [updated 5-2023]

Wisdom Calendar 2001 - November (full catalog list)

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Collection: Sotheby's New York. September 2022 (Painting)
Buddhist Protector: Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo Main Page
Painting Style: Guge Kingdom (Western Tibet)
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