Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Protector: Shri Devi (Early Works)

Shri Devi Art History

Shri Devi is a class or category of female protector deity in Vajrayana Buddhism and a very popular subject in Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhist art. There are two very important distinctions to be made between the different types of Shri Devi.

- Shri Devi: Introduction
- Shri Devi: Early Works

Two Contexts in Painting:
- Central Figure (below)
- Secondary Figure

Four Media Types:
- Painting (scrollwork, below)
- Murals (site locations)
- Palm Leaf & Paper Manuscript Pages
- Sculpture

Study Topics:
- Indian Origin
- Tibetan Origin
- Religious Tradition
- Peaceful Identity
- Others...

In modern times it is commonly said that there are twenty-one forms of Shri Devi. Two of these forms are clearly derived from Indian Sanskrit source texts and popularized during the 11th century. It is very possible that all of the other forms of Shri Devi are Nyingma in origin, either Kama or 'Revealed Treasure.' Some modern writings will even include the Bon deity Sipai Gyalmo in the group of twenty-one.

At least five of the sculptural objects are related to Densatil Monastery. Several paintings are of Dorje Rabtenma and associated with Shalu Monastery. At least one painting depicts Magzor Gyalmo and related to the Sakya tradition prior to becoming popular in the Gelug tradition with the introduction by the 2nd Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso (1476-1542).

Jeff Watt 2-2023