Himalayan Art Resources

Tradition: Sakya Protectors

Sakya Iconography

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Sakya Protectors Description
- Sakya Protectors Outline
- Central Figures
- Lower Register Figures
- Floating Figures
- Examples in Composition
- Protector Deities Main Page
- Confusions
- Others...

- Sakya Protectors
- Panjarnata, Painting #24453

Wisdom Protectors:
- Panjarnata Mahakala
- Brahmanarupa Mahakala
---- Chaturmukha Mahakala
- Ekajati
- Shri Devi Dudsolma
---- Shri Devi Magzor Gyalmo
- Begtse Chen
- Shri Shmashana Adhipati
- Gauri & Marajit
- Pursrung Chunyi (Vajrakila)

The Sakya Tradition has a prescribed list of protector deities that are included in the daily ritual practices of the main Sakya Monastery of Lhakang Chenmo and the associated branch monasteries. The list begins with wisdom deity protectors and ends with worldly deity protectors. In the 20th century the worldly protectors were removed from the daily ritual manuals. The list is specific to the main Sakya monastery and branch monasteries can add additional deities. The branch schools of Sakya such as Ngor, Tsar, Dzong, Bulug, Bodong and Central Tibetan Jonang each have their own lists which almost always include the two main forms of Mahakala along with Shri Devi. Each palace of Sakya and each monastic house of Ngor also have their own special protectors. The specific ritual manuals will generally be composed by the great teachers of that particular monastery or branch tradition.

The list includes those protectors that have been deemed over the centuries to be the most important for Sakya monastery and is not exclusive. All of the 'sarma' protectors of Vajrayana Buddhism are included in the Sakya collection as they are in Kagyu, Gelug and other traditions.

The worldly protectors do not appear to have been popular with the early Sakya tradition and are very much an innovation of the 16th and 17th century and the general Central Tibetan popularization of worldly deities in line with the 5th Dalai Lama and the Gelug Tradition.

Jeff Watt [updated 4-2020]