Thailand art tutelary deities
Thailand art tutelary deities
It is difficult to interpret this term without running into mistakes. The word itself (yi-dam yid-dam-pa) is explained as « one possessing a firm or fixed mind ». It is a divine being manifesting itself in meditation (Yi-dam ni : yid-brtan-po dam-par byed-cinlha sgom-pa’i phvir-ro. This class of deities is represented in this collection by several well executed paintings, on which we see Vajraklla, Yamantaka, Samvara, and others. Each lama, often each buddhist devotee, lias a tutelary deity (Skrt. ista-devata) of his own. lie chooses his protector either for the whole of his life or for some special purpose. The Tantric literature contains many passages describing the character of the different Yi-dams and prescribing various rites in order to propitiate the deity. .Usually these protecting deities appear under a terrible form (Skrt. bhairava ; Tib. dragpo).
They are represented on images with several heads and with numerous hands, holding flaming attributes. Usually they are seen associated with their Caktis. This last form is considered to be very efficient in conjurations. They appear on a flaming background. The yi-dams of the rNin-ma sect are winged; those of the dGe-lugs-pa have no wings. The head of such tutelary deities is adorned with a crown made of human skulls (Tib. thod-pan). Round their bodies are often seen garlands of human heads. They are standing on prostrate human bodies. Their arms and legs are adorned with bracelets. Round the waist they have a kind of belt with ribbons and precious stones. On their chest they often wear a kind of string with the image of the Wheel of the Law in the middle. On some Tantric images a serpent is seen ready to bite the Wheel. The cult of these tutelary deities spread very widely over the countries where
Lamai’sm gained a stronghold. Each -Buddhist sect has a protecting deity of its own : thus Yamantaka is the yi-dam of the dGe-lugs-pa sect, and the cult of Vajraklla is especially recommended among the rNiri-ma-pa lamas.
The painting Nr. VIII (PI. VI), (26 1/2×17), represents Vajraklla with his (akti (Tib. rDo-rje phur-pa yab-yum) The banner is of an especially fine excculion. The figures are numerous and drawn with great care. The iconographical value of the painting is great, for each of the deities represented has its name inscribed below. Vajraklla is seen in the middle, lie has three heads adorned with the crown of human skulls. Ilis body is dark green ; that of his gakti is green. The head to the right is red, that to the left is white. He has six arms ; the first pair of hands is holding the magic dagger ; the -second — the thunderbolt, and the magical sceptre with the trident ; the third pair — the vajra, and the lasso. The deity is wearing a tiger skin and an elephant skin. The garland of human heads is seen round the body. The gakti is holding the cup made of a human skull.
1. A tantric form of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Tib. Chos-sku Kun bzan yab yum). Samantabhadra (Tib. Kun-tu bzan-po) is the Dhyani-Bodhi sattva of the Dhyani-Buddha Vairocana. He is venerated by the old sects as a primordial Buddha
2. Vajrasattva (Tiv. rDo-rje sems-pa). The attributes are not clearly seen.
3. Padmasambhava (Tib. sLob-dpon Padma ’bvun-gnas). The teacher is holding the thunderbolt, the cup, and the magic sceptre.
4. rJe-btsiin Mar-pa. Mar-pa was the teacher of the famous Tibetan poet- mystic Mi-la ras-pa (10З8-1112 A. D.). Mar-pa is said to be the pupil of ’Brom- ston and Atlga. He was the founder of the bKa-brgyud-pa (pron. Ka-jii-pa) sect (about 1080 A. D.), whose object it was to reconcile the ideas of the old sects with those of the newly established bKa-gdams-pa sect, whose founder was Atlga.
5. The figure probably represents the great lo-tsa-ba or translator Vairocana, who began under the guidance of Padmasambhava the translation of Buddhist scriptures into Tibetan. According to a legend, Vairocana knew З00 languages (). He is seen holding the quadruple vajra and a book. He wears the lama dress of the rNin-ma sect.
6. Jo-mo bKris-tshe-rin-ma. The goddess is seen holding a mirror and the cup made of a human skull.
7. llGnikara. The deity is represented with six hands. The attributes are : the magic dagger, the hook, the knife, the bow and arrow. The color of the body is green, the gakti is light green.
8. Uayagrlva (Tib. rTa-mgrin, « Ilorse-neck »J. Venerated as the protector of horses, llis cult was specially recommended by Padmasambhava to the king Kri-isron Ide-blsan. lie is said to drive away demons by neighing, lie usually holds the sceptre, the lasso, the wheel and the sword. The color of the body id red-brown. The <;akti 011 our painting ils light red, but usually she is light blue. On this painting the yi-dam has six hands and is holding the magic dagger, the quadruple thunderbolt, the sceptre, the thunderbolt, and the cup. 9. dbYug-snon sder-mo. The deity is represented with six hands, holding the magic dagger, the lasso, the club, the thunderbolt, and the cup. The color of the yi-dam is dark green, the gakti is light green. 10. ’Dod-dral-mna. The deity is represented with six hands, holding the magic dagger, the hook, the spear, the thunderbolt, and the cup. The color of the body is light red, the cakti is white. 11. rNam-rgyal snam-ma. The deity is represented with six hands, holding the magic dagger, the wheel, the bell, the thunderbolt, and the cup. The color of the yi-dam and of the akti is white. 1 m(ion-po ma-Jin. The deit is represented with six hands, holding the maggie dagger, the sword, the lasso, the thunderbolt and Ihe cup. The color of the deity is. green, the $akti is light green. i3. g^in-rje-gv-ed. The deity has six hands, holding the magic dagger, the mungoose, the sceptre, the thunderbolt and the cup. The color of the deity is dark green, Ihe akti is green. 1/1. Khams-gsum-gsod-byed. The yi-dam is represented with six hands holding I .he magic* dagger, the axe, the lasso, the thunderbolt, and the cup. The color of the deity and of the akti is white. 15. Mi-gyo gtun-khun. The deity is represented with -six hands, holding the magic dagger, the lasso, the knife, the thunderbolt, and the cup. The color of the deity and of Ihe cakii is light green. 16. sTobs-chen bskul-byed. The deity has six hands, holding the magic dagger, the bow and arrow, the thunderbolt, and the cup. The color is dark green, the gakti is green. 17. Ratnaklia. this deity is represented with six hands, holding the magic dagger, the mungoose, the lasso, the mirror and the cup. The color is yellow. The lower part of the body is in the shape of a dagger. 18. Padmaklla. Ihe deity has six hands, holding the magic dagger, the chain, the sword, the lotus and the cup. The color is red. 19. VajrakLa. This form of the yi-dam has six hands, holding the magic dagger, the wheel, the lasso, the hook and the thunderbolt. The color is green- 20. Karmaklla. Ihe deity has six hands, holding the magic dagger, the sceptre, the bell, the quadruple thunderbolt, and the lasso. 21. sNags-kyi srun-ma. This deity is considered to be the protector of the fantra doctrine. The deity is holding the trident and the cup made of a human skull. Round the body is seen the string of human heads. 22. Ye-ges mgon-po, a form of Mahakala. The deity is regarded as the protector of knowledge. He is represented with six hands, holding the magic dagger, the cup, the thunderbolt, the club, the stick and the rosary. The color of the deity is blue. 23. Rahu (Tib. sGra-gcan). The demon is represented shooting the bow. He has nine heads and four arms. Besides the bow, he is holding the lasso and the thunderbolt (usually he holds a banner). His body is in the form of a dragon. On the painting there is the following Tibetan inscription : The great rsi Rahu accepted the words of Vajradhara : drink the warm blood of the heart of an enemy and cut down the family of an enemy at its foot (Dran- sron chcn-po Ra-hu-las rDo-rje ’chan-gi bka bsin-du yid la snan (gnag) : Dgra- bo’i snin-khrag drom-mo sal-du gsol, dgra-bo’i mi-brgyud rlsa-nas chod). 2Д. Phyag-bsi mgon-po. The deity is represented with four heads and four arms, holding the club, the banner, the knife and the lasso. It is seen riding on a phantastic animal with the horns of a bull. The color of the deity is blue. 26. Srid-pa’i rgyal-mo. The deity has six hands, holding the thunderbolt, the cup, the sword, the mungoose, the club and the trident. It is riding a mule. 26. Lha chen-po rdo-rje ’bar-ba rlsal. The deity is riding a horse and holding a whip. 27. dPal-ldan lha-mo (Skrt. QrldevI, Qrimatl Devi). The goddess is holding a sword and the cup. She is seen riding a mule. 28. bTsan rgyal. He wears an armour and is seen on horseback. With iiis right hand he is spearing a human body, lying on the ground ; with his left hand he catches the isame body with a rope. bTsan-rgyal is a demon king conquered by Padmasambhava. 29. bDul-rgyal, the king of demons. He is seen on horseback, holding a banner and a rope. 30. kLu-rgyal, Nagaraja. He is seen on horseback, holding a vase and a string. The painting Nr. 9 (pi. VII) (25 i/4xi6 3/4) represents the yi-dam bDe- m6hog (Samvara). The particular form represented on our painting is called in Tibetan dPal ’khor-lo sdom-pa. The yi-dam is represented with his $akti. lie has four heads. The central one is blue, the two heads to the left are green and red, the head to the right is yellow. He wears the crown of human skulls, the tiger skin and the string of severed human heads. In his twelve hands be is holding the following attributes : (right) the elephant skin (Tib. Glan-1 pags), the axe, the knife (gri-gug), the trident the drum and the thunderbolt ; (left) the elephant skin, the cup, the lasso, the severed head of Brahma (Tib. Tshan-pa’i sgo) with four faces, the magical sceptre and the thunderbolt. His $akti is holding the gri-gug knife. The yi-dam’s body is of a blue color, his $akti is red. Both are standing on prostrate human bodies. Under the right foot, the body of a man holding the knife and the cup ; under the right foot-the body of a man holding the drum. Above is seen Aksobhya with his gakti (Tib. Mi-bskyod-pa yab-yum). The Dhyani-Buddha is holding a thunderbolt. 2. The yi-dam dPal-dus-kyi ’khor-lo. dPal-dus-kyi ’khor-lo is the yi-dam of Qambhala, a mystic country in the north where the Kalacakra system originated. The body of the yi-dam is blue. One of the legs is white, the other red. He has three heads. He is represented with twenty four arms, with numerous attributes. His cakti is yellow. 3. llevajra (Tib. dPal-kyai rdo-rje). The yi-dam is green, the gakti is blue. The deity is represented with eight heads and four legs. () In the four corners are represented four Dakinls (Tib. mKa-’gro-ma). All four wear the usual Dakinl attire : the crown of skulls and the string of human skulls. They have four hands holding the magic’sceptre, the cup, and the drum. Nr. Д is yellow, Nr. 5 is red, Nr. 6 is grey, Nr. 7 is light green. All four are standing on prostrate human bodies. The yi-dam bDe-mchog incarnates himself in the Grand Lama of Peking, the ICan-skva Khutukhtu. The cult of this yi-dam is particularly popular in the Tsa-ri province. Painting Nr. 10 (Зо З/ДХ22 1/2) represents the yi-dam bDe-mchog. The painting is very damaged. Painting Nr. 11 (2Д i/Дх 16 i/Д) represents Yamantaka (Tib. rDo-rje ’jigs- byed) surrounded by tutelary deities. Yamantaka is the Tantric form of the Bodhi- saltva Manjucri, who subdued under this form the king of death, Yama. He is considered to be the yi-dam of the dGe-lugs-pa sect. Yamantaka has the head of a bull. Above him is seen the red head of a fearful deity and the scornful face of the Bodhisattva Manjucri. The body of the yi-dam is blue, its gakti is light blue. Yamantaka has sixteen legs and thirty-four arms. He is holding the following attributes : in his right hands he has the gri-gug knife, the tiger skin, the hook, the magic dagger, the club, the mortar, the magic sceptre, the knife, the conch, the spear, the thunderbolt, the axe, a kind of hammer, a spear, a sword, an arrow and the drum.. In his left hands he has a cup made of a human skull, the skin of a tiger, a severed human head, a shield, a human body on a spear, a human leg, a pot, the lasso, the skull, a human head, human bowels, a bell, and a spear. He is standing on human and animal bodies. 1, 2, 3 represent Tson-kha-pa and his two disciples rGval-tshab-rje, holding the lotus and the wheel, and mKhas-grub-rje holding the bowl. rGyal-ba Tson- kha-pa is sometimes seen assisted by Atlca and Nagarjuna. Д. represents dPal-gsan ba ?dus-pa. The deity is blue, the gakti light blue. 5. dPal-’khor-lo sdom-pa. 6. Avalokite^vara with four arms (Tib. Spvan-ras-gzigs phyag-bsi-pa). 7. Vai^ravana (rNam-thos-sras), holding the banner and the mungoose. 8. Gur-gyi mgon-po, the « Protector of the Tent », a form of Mahakala. The deity is blue and is holding the gri-gug knife and the cup. ‘ 9. mGon-po bram-ze gzugs-can, or the « Protector with the body of a Brahman ». His body is blue, the hair on the head is white. He is holding the sword, Lbi* cup and the banner. On his right arm hangs a garland of human skulls, lie is silling on a proslrale human b;>d\. The proteclor is also a forni of Mahakala.
10. Chos-rgyal phyi-sgrub, a form of Llic* god of death, Yama. Me is standing on a bull, holding the club and the lasso. He has the head of a bull ; hi>s color is blue, llis <;.akti, seen behind him, is light blue.
Li. mGon-po phyag-drug-pa, or the « Protector with six hands ». This form of Mahakala was recommended to the Mongols by the third Dalai-Lama. The god is holding the gri-gug knife, the cup, the drum, the lasso, l.he. trident and the siring of skulls. The color is blue, lie is standing 011 a prostrate human body, lie is one of the « eight terrible ones » (lib. drag-gsed).
1a. (^rldevl (Tib. Llia-mo). The deity is seen riding a white mule. She is holding the trident and the cup. Her body is blue. She is regarded as the protector of Lhasa and the spouse of Yama. On this painting she is seen crossing a pond of demon’s blood.
Painting Nr. 12 (PI. VIII) (2З i/4x i5 1/2).
The identification of this yi-dam is nol eerlain. The lamas, whom we had the occasion (o ask, called the deity «mGon-po phyag-drug». The color of the deily is blue, ils <;akli is green. The deity is represented with three heads and six arms. The head to its left is red. The yi-dam is holding the Ihunderbolt and the cup kapiila. Round the central figure are seen different yi-dams, probably various forms of the mGon-po phyag-drug. Above the central figure are seen : the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, Yajradhara, Manju^ri, (Jakvamuni, the teacher Padmasambhava, and the founder of the Karma-pa sect (Tib. rGyal-ba Kar-ma-pa).
The painting comes from a Kar-ma-pa monastery. It is designed with gold on a black background. The figures are colored. All the details of ornamentation are executed with, great care. The painting belongs to the sino-tibetan art of the XVIII-XVHIth centuries.