Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Begtse Chen (Buddhist Protector)

བེག་ཚེ་ལྕམ་སྲིང། སྲུང་མ། 大红司命 (又名战神)护法
(item no. 90210)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Uncertain
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line, Black Background on Cotton
Collection Moke Mokotoff
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Begtse Chen (English: the Great Suit of Mail. Sanskrit name: Prana Atma), Red Mahakala, the main protector for the Hayagriva cycle of practice.

Tibetan: Begtse Chen

Fearsome in appearance, maroon in colour, with three round eyes staring forward, he has a gaping red mouth and yellow upward flowing hair. The right hand holds upraised a vajra sword and the left at the breast holds a human heart, bow and arrow. The bend of the left elbow clutches a red spear emblazoned with a pendant. Adorned with a crown of five skulls, a garland of severed heads and various ornaments, he wears a suit of mail armour, long flowing brocade garments and boots. With the right leg bent pressing on a prone human form and the left straight on a reclining horse he stands atop a sun disc and lotus seat surrounded by the red burning flames of pristine awareness.

At the right side is the disheveled consort, Goddess of Life, with a body reddish in colour, naked, flaccid hanging breasts, holding a sword aloft in the right hand and a kila, three sided dagger, in the left, riding atop a brown female bear also with pronounced breasts. At the left side is the son Lord of Life reddish in colour with one face and two hands, dressed in similar attire as the father. He thrusts a spear forward with the right hand and holds outstretched the left performing a wrathful gesture and clutching a lasso, riding on the back of a black wolf.

Above and below the central figure, as attendants, are 10 'tsen' butcher daemons. All are reddish in colour with one face and two hands, upward flaming hair, and engaged in the work of butchering.

The protector Begtse Chen is most popular within the Sarma traditions of the Sakya and Kagyu Schools and originally popularized by Sachen Kunga Nyingpo and Marpa Lotsawa - the respective founders of each. In later centuries, the practice became popular within the Gelugpa School. The style of painting is Black Scroll, common for the subject of wrathful deities.

Lineage from India: Vajradhara, Mahadeva, Nyi Od Drakpa, Dawa Nagpo, Shridhara Krashu, Nyen Lotsawa Dharma Drag, Kha'u Chokyi Gyaltsen, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), etc. Alternately from Nyen Lotsawa to Marpa Lotsawa Chokyi Lodro (1012-1099), etc.

J.Watt 5-99

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Collection of Moke Mokotoff
Painting Type: Black Ground Main Page
Buddhist Protector: Begtse Chen Main Page