Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shri Devi (Buddhist Protector) - Magzor Gyalmo

དཔལ་ལྡན་ལྷ་མོ། 吉祥天母(佛教护法)
(item no. 83451)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Private
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): she is a protector deity by classification and function and she belongs to the larger class of enlightened protector deities known as Shri Devi. In this form as Magzor Gyalmo, she is regarded as a wrathful emanation of the peaceful goddess Sarasvati, popular both in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Magzor Gyalmo is in a Wrathful Appearance which is one of the Eleven Figurative Forms in Himalayan style art. She is blue in colour which represents wrathful activities and the overcoming of anger and hatred. (See Colours in Himalayan Style Art).

"... 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).

At the top center is a Tibetan teacher wearing monastic clothing and holding a folio book in his left hand. Magzor Gyalmo has two immediate attendants and four general retinue figures. Leading the mule is Makaramukha with a water monster face and following behind is Simhamukha with a lion face (not the same as the meditational deity Simhamukha). At the top left is the Queen of Spring. At the top right is the Queen of Summer. At the bottom left is the Queen of Autumn. On the right side is the Queen of Winter. These last four are the general retinue figures.

From among the many different forms of Shri Devi, this specific form of Magzor Gyalmo, blue-black and wrathful, is recognized by having one face and two hands, holding aloft with the right a vajra tipped staff and in the left a skullcup held to the heart. She rides side-saddle atop a mule. Above her head is a large peacock feather parasol. In the Sakya and related Traditions there is a snake ornament for the right ear and a lion for the left. In the Gelug Tradition this is reversed and the lion is an ornament for the right ear and the snake for the left ear. According to the lunar calendar the special day for worship of Magzor Gyalmo is the 14th of the month.

The reverse of the painting has an inscription along with the hand prints, in gold, of the 2nd Panchen Lama, Lobzang Yeshe.

The textual source for Magzor Gyalmo is the Dakinyagnijihajvala Tantra, Dege Kanjur, volume 98, pp.223-253. It is found in the Nyingma Tantra section, vol.3. TBRC w22084.

Jeff Watt 12-2015

Buddha Form | Female Form | Wrathful Form

Secondary Images
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Buddhist Protector: Shri Devi, Magzor Gyalmo Main Page
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Collection of Dhargye Museum (Painting Gallery 2)