Friday, February 16, 2007

Shri Devi

Mongolians believe that Shri-Devi visits every family on New Year’s Eve and put some ice near the door means to water her thirsty mule. A special religious ceremony is also performed for Palden Lhamo.

Shri Devi, the only female wrathful deity among the Dharmapalas, the main deity of Gelugpa Sect, and the protector of Buddhism, is depicted with a dark blue body. She is seated sideways on her mule, with her knees spread apart. In her right hand, she holds a club with a vajra on the end, and in her left hand, she holds a blood filled skull cup. The mule has two eyes on its hips, one on each side. The flayed skin of a human with its head attached acts as a saddle blanket. The mule stands upon a base consisting of sharply pointed mountains surrounding an ocean of blood. Her two attendants, walk beside the mule. Makaravaktra dakini, with an elephant head, is on the right holding the mule’s bridle. Simhavaktra dakini, with a lion head, is on the left holding a chopper and a rope noose. In the upper center, Tsongkapa is accompanied by Green Tara in his left and Ushnishavijava in his right. On the right, wrathful Yamantaka and on the left, Vajrapani are in the clouds. In the lower center, Mahakala sits on a lotus base. White Mahakala and Vaishravana are in the lower left and right corners. Lovely scenes of landscape, clouds, and stream are on the left and right sides of the painting. Mongolians believe that Shri Devi helps to overcome obstacles, to prevent from deceases and to prolong life.

In 17-19th century, although the majority of Mongolian thangkas are painted on a white ground, there are examples with red and black grounds with gold paint, which is called Nagthang. Paintings with red and gold backgrounds depict peaceful deities, while black grounds are reserved for wrathful deities. Gold is used for line work in both red and black thangkas. Shri-Devi rides on her mule in an ocean of blood surrounded by mountains. She has three glaring eyes, carries a skull cup containing blood in her left hand, and holds a club with a skull-topped and a vajra on the end. Her hair is upswept, she wears a five-skull crown, ring-shaped earrings, jewelries, a rosary of freshly severed heads and a tiger-skin skirt. A wooden stick wrapped in a snake is on her left waist, and a human skull on her right knee’s depiction is very unusual. Her two attendants walk beside the mule. An elephant-headed Makaravaktra dakini is holding the mule’s snake-bridle in the right side, a lion-headed Simhavaktra dakini is holding a skull-cup and a chopper in the left. Photographer: Gansukh.N, Source: Mongolian Antique Museum

1 Comment:

Trevor & Rachel said...

Great pictures and a great article