Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist) - Pehar

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 822)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Size 44.45x31.75cm (17.50x12.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1999.7.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Gyalpo Pehar - the Five Kings (Tibetan: pe har gyal po nga): with the white 'Activity King' of the North centrally portrayed. An avowed religious protector subjugated by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century.

With three wrathful faces, white, black and red, he glares with three round red eyes and a gaping mouth. Having six hands, the three right hold a hook, arrow and sword. The three left hold a razor, bow and stick. Adorned with a red riding hat of Chinese origin, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, he is attired in flowing garments and a human skin tied about the neck. The lower body is wrapped with a tiger skin. Comfortably seated riding atop a snow lion above a sun disc and pink lotus blossom, he is surrounded by the massive swirling orange flames of wisdom fire. Arranged in front are three white skullcups brimming with torma of the five senses, nectar and an offering of blood.

At the upper left in the western direction is the red Pehar 'King of Speech' holding a stick upraised with the right hand and a sandalwood 'ghandi' in the left, attired in variously coloured garments, riding a horse. Below is the dark blue Pehar 'King of Mind' holding aloft a lasso in the right and a razor in the left, in similar attire and riding atop a white elephant. At the upper right is dark blue Pehar 'King of Body' holding in the right hand a gold vajra and in the left a monk's walking staff, riding atop a snow lion. Below in the southern direction is dark blue Pehar 'King of Qualities' holding upraised in the right hand a battle axe and a lasso in the left, with similar garments and a round red hat, he rides atop a brown horse. Surrounding all are the orange flames of wisdom fire.

At the top center are the Three Long-life Deities (Tib.: tse lha nam sum). In the middle is the buddha of 'Boundless Life' Amitayus, red, with one face and two hands placed in the lap supporting a long-life vase. At the left is White Tara with the right hand in the mudra (gesture) of generosity and the left at the heart holding the stem of a lotus blossom. At the right side is the goddess of long-life, Ushnishavijaya, white with three faces and eight hands. At the right corner is Green Tara with one face and two hands performing the mudra of generosity with the right and holding a lotus stem with the left, seated in a relaxed posture with the right leg extended. At the left corner is Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava holding a vajra and skullcup to the heart, a katvanga staff against the left shoulder and wearing the three robes and a lotus hat.

At the bottom center is Dorje Dragden, the chief minister in the retinue of Pehar. Red in colour, with one face and two hands he holds a trident lance in the upraised right and a lasso in the left, in a standing posture surrounded by orange flames. At the left is Tsiu Marpo, a red Tsen daemon, with one face and two hands holding a spear pointed downwards in the right and a lasso in the left, riding a brown horse. At the right side is the Oathbound Blacksmith (Tib.: Damchen Garwa Nagpo), black with one face and two hands holding a hammer in the right and a tiger skin bellows in the left, riding on a brown goat with twisting horns.

There are numerous legends concerning the subjugation of Pehar, however they all agree that he is not indigenous to Tibet. Oath bound to protect the Buddhist teachings by Guru Padmasambhava; he has since become a Tibetan national protector appointed at the time of the Great 5th Dalai Lama by the Ganden Podrang government.

Jeff Watt 6-99

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (handprints)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Protectors, Worldly Deities
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 8
Buddhist Protectors: Worldly (Nyingma)
Buddhist Worldly Protector: Pehar Gyalpo Main Page
Buddhist Worldly Protector: Pehar Gyalpo Five Forms (Ku Nga)
Buddhist Worldly Protector: Pehar Gyalpo (Activity)