Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Tiger Imagery

Animals Mythical and Real

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
--- Persons
--- Deities
--- Symbolic
--- Astrological
- Confusions: lion, leopard
- Others...

Video: Tiger Imagery

There are tigers associated with persons, deities and those that are symbolic. The attendant to the Sixteen Arhats, Dharmatala, is accompanied by a tiger. The mahasiddha Dombi Heruka stands or rides atop pregnant tiger. Tsongkapa in his guise as a siddha rides atop a tiger. A Gelug motif depicts a Mongolian man leading a tiger with an iron chain as does one of the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava - Sogpo Lhapal.

Dorje Drolo a wrathful form of Padmasambhava stands atop a pregnant tigress. The form of Mahakala known as Vyaghra-vahana stands on the back of a tiger. An attendant to Simhamukha in a three deity configuration is Vyaghra-mukha with a tiger face, a female form, and semi-wrathful in appearance. Generally all male wrathful deities wear a tiger skin skirt. Female deities wear a leopard skin skirt.

The tiger belongs to the group known as the Four Animals of Dignity which are also adorn the four corners 0of Buddhist Prayer Flags. The Mongolian and the Tiger fastened with an iron chain is almost identical to the Nyingma teacher Sogpo Lhapal, however the meaning of the imagery can be interpreted very differently. Tiger skins are used as wrathful deity attire and garments.

- Jataka: Starving Tigress
- Dharmatala
- Dombi Heruka
- Sogpo Lhapal
- Tsongkapa as a Siddha
- Others...

- Vyaghra-vahana
- Dorje Drolo
- Others...

- Four Animals of Dignity
- Prayer Flags
- Mongolian & the Tiger
- Tiger Skin Skirt
- Others...

Jeff Watt 2-2022