Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Worldly Protector (Buddhist) - Dorje Legpa

འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ། ནང་ལྷ། 世俗的神(佛教)
(item no. 93)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Nyingma
Size 45.72x29.21cm (18x11.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1995.1.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Wrathful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Dorje Legpa (Sanskrit: Vajra Sadhu). Oath bound worldly protector of the Nyingma School, guardian of the Revealed Treasure Tradition.

Tibetan: Dor je leg pa Sanskrit: Vajra Sadhu

"...above a lotus and sun and a gelded goat, or a white radiant lion, ... is the excellent Dorje Legpa, maroon, one face, two hands, three eyes. The face is radiant with bared fangs, exhaling a poisonous breath, with red hair and moustache flowing upward. The right hand holds a vajra striking the heads of enemies and the left a human heart. Wearing a cloak of red silk, dwelling in a fierce and wrathful manner." (Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje 1646-1714 and Minling Lochen Dharmashri 1654-1718. Tibetan source text 'dod 'jo bum bzang, Part II, page 242).

Tibetan Source Text Scanned pages

Wrathful, maroon in colour, he has one face, two hands, three round eyes, a gaping mouth and yellow hair flowing upward like flame. The first hand extended to the right holds a gold vajra and the left a human heart held up to the mouth. Resting against the shoulder is a red flag hoisted on a long staff. Adorned with gold earrings, necklaces and bracelets he wears a hat, round in shape and red, crowned with a half vajra. Attired in long flowing garments and boots, his body is well covered, seated atop a snow lion pressing down on a red corpse and sun disc above a lotus seat. The snow lion head is turned upward to show respect for the master; surrounded by thick black smoke and the flames of pristine awareness. At the edge of the flames are numerous wild animals, birds and beasts - messengers of Dorje Legpa.

At the top center is Guru Padmasambhava wearing a lotus hat and long flowing robes. In the right hand he holds a vajra and in the left a skullcup and katvanga staff. To the left side is Haygriva, red, with one face topped by a green horse head, and two hands holding a stick topped with a human skull (barely legible) in the right and a lasso in the left; standing surrounded by flames. At the right is Vajrapani, blue, holding a vajra in the right hand and performing a wrathful gesture with the left; in similar appearance.

At the middle left is Damchen Garwai Nagpo, the main attendant to Dorje Legpa, (blue in colour) with one face and two hands holding in the upraised right a vajra hammer and in the left a blacksmith's bellows made of tiger skin. He rides on the back of a brown billy goat with the horns entwined. At the middle right is a Dorje Yudronma, peaceful, red in colour, well attired in long robes holding in the right hand a mirror held aloft. In the left hand is a long-life arrow with streamers.

At the bottom center is Damchen Nordrup Dorje Legpa, red, with three eyes, holding upraised in the right hand a vajra hook and in the left a mongoose. The consort holds aloft in the left hand a long-life arrow with a white ribbon and a gold mirror with a red ribbon in the right. Both are richly attired in various peaceful garments and jewel ornaments. At the left are five wrathful figures each with one face and two hands, riding on mounts of bird, goat, donkey, horse and lion. At the right are six figures riding similar wild mounts with one red female in a standing posture at the lower right.

"At the blazing iron fortress of Uyug Shang, powerful son from the union with a Mu daemon, great in magical emanations, performing attentively the commands of bhagavan Vajrapani; homage to the herald of liberation, Dorje Legpa." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

Indigenous to Tibet, the daemon Dorje Legpa was subjugated in the 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava and oath bound as a Dharma protector. His primary function is to safeguard the Revealed Treasure texts (Terma) of the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

The style of painting is called 'nag tang' - black scroll. Executed on a black background the figures are outlined with fine gold line and coloured pigments are added according to particular custom or the wishes of the patron and artist.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Protectors, Worldly Deities
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Buddhist Protectors: Worldly (Nyingma)
Buddhist Deity: Dorje Legpa Main Page
Subject: Deities Wearing Boots & Shoes
Buddhist Deity: Dorje Legpa Riding a Lion