Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Ladies with Beards

Female Imagery Introduction

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description
- Semi-peaceful/Semi-wrathful Appearance (Rishi)
- Wrathful Appearance (Raksha)
- Painting Traditions & Styles
- Men With Beards
- Masterworks
- Confusions: Male Wrathful Deities
- Others...

Video: Ladies With Beards

All, or almost all, wrathful male deities have bristling eyebrows, a moustache and beards. The colour is typically yellow, red or brownish in hue. Sometimes an artist will render the bristling hair in flame-like detail. Facial hair is included in the definition and description for wrathful male deities.

Facial Hair: Four Parts
- Eyebrows
- Sides of the Mouth (moustache)
- Goatee (lower lip)
- Beard (chin & sides of the face)

Although appearing to not have any textual basis for this addition, after the 17th century female deities belonging to the semi-peaceful/wrathful and wrathful appearance classes began to show signs of facial hair similar to their male counterparts. The female deities are also typically depicted with the first three of the four parts of facial hair. However, there are not many, but examples of female deities with all four parts can also be found.

The additional of the facial hair is not followed by all painting traditions but rather appears confined to the New Menri style of painting dominant in Central Tibet and the Kham-ri painting styles of Eastern Tibet, possibly influenced by the New Menri tradition. There are no examples of historical female teachers with facial hair.

Jeff Watt 10-2021

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the semi-peaceful and wrathful female deity pages).