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Tibetan Buddhist Art Palden Lhamo LW007

tangka style tibetan Buddhist temple wall hanging Palden Lhamo

Click on the picture for a larger view.

Palden Lhamo, riding her horse over a sea of blood has several bodhisattva attendants aiding her. This is an advanced practice tantric depiction with the black billowing ether in the background. The colors are very vibrant, and the 24kt gold is done over kyungbur which is a hallmark of the sange Monasteries. The border is almost exclusively gold over kyungbur, the auras of the red skinned bodhisattvas, the roofs of the buildings and much of the jewelry adorning Palden Lhamo and her horse are also 24kt gold over kyungbur. Palden Lhamo is said to reside in the hills adjacent to the lower Sange Monastery and this wall hanging would have enjoyed a very prominent place in the temple and this accounts for the abundant use of gold. Please see the iconography for details. This piece comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and accompanying documents.

Palden Lhamo (The Goddess Who Rides on a Sea of Blood)
Age: circa 1600
dimensions ~ OverAll H=55" x W=42" ~ Painting H=45" x 33"

Sold~~Portland, OR

Have questions? To get questions answered  , contact David by emailing david@baronet4tibet.com

Price $4750.00


Tangkas with a black background like this one form a special category of contemplative paintings; highly mystical and esoteric, usually reserved for advanced practice. Black is the color of hate, transmuted by the alchemy of wisdom into the ultimate-reality-perfection wisdom. Darkness represents the imminence of the absolute, the threshold of experience. Dark denotes death, which enlightenment converts into the body of Truth, a conquest not by annihilating, but by turning evil into good.

Palden Lhamo is the only female among the eight great dharampalas (Protectors of Buddhism). She is a protectress of Buddhist governments everywhere, including the Dalai Lamas and their government in Lhasa. She was also a protectress of Imperial China from the Yuan dynasty in the thirteenth century to the end of the Qing dynasty in the twentieth century. Palden Lhamo is a typical tantric goddess who belongs in the Vajrayana.

In India, Palden Lhamo is also known as Shri Devi. She is considered a wrathful manifestation of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, eloquent speech, and music. Another of her manifestation is Chamundi, the consort of Yama.

From the gods Palden Lhamo received a mule, whose covering is the skin of a Yaksha or demon. She is always shown seated sideways on this mule.This large fierce Deity exists in an ethereal world of black ether, or cosmic space, and black flames. The color black is symbolic of ether or space and here reflects the ultimate reality, voidness, the Truth Body of enlightened beings. Beings enjoying the awareness of this reality are moved only to manifestation by compassion, which is the source of the striking beauty of their forms and surroundings.  Nonetheless, these figures and their settings are gruesome and terrifying in order to project an aura of overwhelming power that will protect practitioners. They work to eradicate unwanted obstructions to the realization of the enlightened mind. She is most terrific, she rides her mule over a sea of her slaughtered opponents blood and her saddle cloth is the flayed skin of her late son. Her murderousness is only directed against enemies of the faith. The story goes that in the 19th century Queen Victoria wa an incarnation of Palden Lhamo and that Lhasa would not be attacked as long as the Queen lived: in 1904, shortly after the Queen's death, the British Younghusband expedition stood in front of the gates of Lhasa and forced acceptance of the British presence in Tibet.

Lhamo (Skt. Kaladevi,) also called Remati, was married to Shinje, the king of the dudpos, who at the time of their marriage was the king of Lanka.  She had vowed either to gentle him and make him favorable towards the religion of Buddha, or else to see to it that an end be put to that whole dynasty. Hard as she tried over many years, she could not effect any improvement in his evil ways and so she determined to kill their son who was being raised to be the one to finally do away with Buddhism in that kingdom. During the king's absence, Devi accomplished the dreadful dead.  She killed her son and flayed him, then drank his blood using his skull for a cup and also ate his flesh.  She then left the palace and using her son's skin as a saddle cloth, set off for her northern home on one of the king's finest steeds. On his return, seeing what had happened, the king seized his bow and with a fierce and terrible curse shot off a poisoned arrow, but the arrow only pierced the animal's rump and there it stuck fast.  The queen easily neutralized the king's imprecation, and removing the deadly barb she said: "May the wound of my mount become an eye large enough to watch over the twenty-four regions, and may I myself be the one to extirpate the lineage of the malignant kings of Lanka!" Then Palden Lhamo continued northwards, easily traversing India, Tibet, Mongolia, and part of China, and finally settled, say some people, on the mountain Oikhan, in the Olgon district of Eastern Siberia. This mountain is said to be surrounded by large, uninhabited deserts, and by the ocean Muliding.

She wears the crown of five skulls symbolizing the transmutation of the delusions, into discriminating wisdom, the 5 delusions or poisons are; ignorance, hatred, pride, craving (greed), and envy. Discriminating wisdom is the mind that is the seed of the wisdom truth body of Buddha. In her right hands she holds a tally stick made of red sandalwood. Red sandalwood is the most sacred of Indian woods, and its color and fragrance symbolizes the activity of subjugation. The tally stick being held in her right hand, the method hand, is used as a weapon that breaks and pulverizes symbolizing the annihilation of the veil of defilements created by karma. On her left hand she holds a skull cup, most probably that of her killed son; this then would be a skull cup of greatest tantric or spiritual power. The skull of those executed are said to have the greatest tantric power and those of a child also have great potency. It is not by accident that Palden Lhamo holds this skull cup over her heart as it represents wisdom that the method of the tally stick strives for; as such this is a wet skull which emphasizes the cultivation of wisdom and the realization of the 'clear light'.

Among her entourage are 4 unknown bodhisattva deities at each corner and at the bottom center is one of her usual helpers, Simhavaktra Dakini. Simhavaktra is a goddess of Tibetan Buddhism that clears obstacles from the paths of those who seek enlightenment.She is lion-headed with a mane of green fire that represents the flames of wisdom. The lion-head indicates that she is fearless in the over-coming the obstacles that stand in the way of enlightenment.

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