Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Eye Coverings

Hats of the Himalayas (Religious)

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Eye Coverings Description (below)
- Drugpa Tradition
- Cho Tradition
- Protection from snow blindness
- Eyes in Himalayan Art
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Eye Coverings, or Eye Protection (Tibetan: mig ra, mig dra. English: eye net). There are three or more types of eye coverings used in the Himalayas and Tibet. Two of the types are functional and common for all and the third is a type of eye covering used in meditation practice. A possible fourth type, similar or the same as the third, is used in the Chod practices of Machig Labdron. The Tibetan word 'dom ra' is sometimes used, possibly named after the bear-like hairy look, or possibly because it is made from Himalayan bear fur or hair.

The first is simply a type of eye protection, a version of sun glasses worn while travelling in the high snowy mountains. Their function is the prevention of snow blindness and eye damage from the glare of the sun off of the white snow. The coverings are typically made from woven horse hair, either thick or thin, depending on the situation for which they were created.

The second is a type of eye shade worn by scholars and editors while working for long hours on written texts.

In Himalayan art, painting and sculpture, the figures of religious teachers are sometimes depicted wearing Eye Protection. Some teachers are even shown with the coverings as part of their standard iconographic profile. Examples of these teachers are Karshu Gonpo Dorje and Kunpang Sherab Gyatso.

Depictions of figures with Eye Coverings conveys the meaning that those individuals have spent long periods of time wandering in the mountains and in prolonged retreat settings in isolated locations.

Not all of the depictions below are necessarily true Eye Protection against glare from the snow. Some types are meant for more general use similar to a visor or modern sunglasses and used when working with the preparation of the editing and publication of written or printed texts.

Jeff Watt 9-2012 [updated 8-2013, 3-2019]

mig ra'i khrid yig (ga cha). gsung 'bum/_mgon po rdo rje Volume 2 Pages 379-382. [w23867]

mig ra dang zhwa khrid sogs chos tshan bzhi'i dpe bzhugs (ga ta). gsung 'bum/_mgon po rdo rje Volume 2 Pages 403 - 408. [w23867]