Himalayan Art Resources

Bon Deity: Four Transcendent Lords Main Page

Four Transcendent Lords Main Page | Bon Religion Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Four Transcendent Lords Definition (below)
- Four Transcendent Lords Outline Page
- Four Transcendent Lords Painting Sets Outline
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

The Four Transcendent Lords (bde gshegs gtso bo bzhi)
1. Yingkyi Yum Chenmo (dbyings kyi yum chen mo)
Satrig Ersang, Lhamo (sa trig er sangs, lha mo)
2. Lhachen Shen lha Okar (lha chen g.shen lha 'od dkar, Lha chen)
3. Sid pa Sangpo Bumtri (srid pa sangs po 'bum khri)
4. Tonpa Shenrab Miwo (ston pa g.shen rab mi bo)

These four are also known as: Lhamo, Lhachen, Sidpa and Shenrab (lha mo, lha chen, srid pa, g.shen rab).

Painting Sets:
1. Painting Set 1 (Field Museum)
2. Painting Set 2
3. Painting Set 3
4. Painting Set 4
5. Painting Set 5
6. Painting Set 6
7. Painting Set 7
8. Painting Set 8
9. Painting Set 9
10 Painting Set 10
11 Painting Set 11
12 Painting Set 12
13 Painting Set 13 (Tamashige)
14. (The Sichuan University Museum has numerous sets of Four Transcendent Lords and Tonpa Shenrab Life Story Paintings as do a number of un-catalogued private collections in the East and the West).
14. Others....

The subject of the Four Transcendent Lords, in sets of four paintings, are typically found in every Bon Temple in the Himalayas and Tibet. These four deities hold a similar position as Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Arhats, or the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, as is customarily found in each and every Buddhist Temple in the Himalayan regions and Tibet.

It is common to find accompanying the Four Transcendent Lords, supreme deities of the Bon religion, a fifth composition depicting their combined mandala. The sets below are from Tibet, Kham (East Tibet), Dolpo (Nepal) and Dolanji (North India).

The subject of the Four Transcendent Lords is described in detail in chapter 30 of the Ziji with the story of the death of Prince Trishang of Tazik. The Four Lords are the principal deities in the funeral ritual for the prince. In chapter 61 the Four Lords are further discussed with reference to the death and funeral of Tonpa Shenrab. The Ziji is a twelve volume, sixty-one chapter, biography of Tonpa Shenrab.

Jeff Watt 7-2003