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Palden Lhamo
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Tangka ~~ Palden Lhamo~~

(The Goddess Who Rides on a Sea of Blood)

Classic depiction of Palden Lhamo, with the usual cast of attendants; painted at the Sange Monastery. The artwork is nicely detailed and overall in excellent shape for the age. The brocade has been removed.

33H " x 25W" (measurements approximate)

Circa mid 20th century


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palden lhamo


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.

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 she received a mule, whose covering is the skin of a Yaksha or demon. She is always shown seated sideways on this mule (Queen Victoria was said to have been Palden Lhamo and thus the English female riding style).

<<<<Click on the picture to the left to see an expanded view

This large fierce Deity, her entourage, and two (Gelupka) lamas coexist in an ethereal world of blue ether, or cosmic space, and red and orange flames. The color blue 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.





Here the blue-bodied ferocious Palden Lhamo has three eyes. The mule she is riding upon gallops furiously over a sea of blood. She is largely naked and adorned with a necklace made up of freshly severed heads. From her saddle hangs a pouch with dice. Indeed her initiation is held to be a gateway to divinatory powers, and she can be invoked by practitioners of the Tibetan system of divination known as mo, which involves the use of dice. There is also a lake called Lhamo Latso, to the south-east of Lhasa, whose reflections are said to reveal the future.



Mahakala riding a blue yak.
Each of the Mahakalas that accompany are displaying the banishing mudra. All are there to help the serious practitioner to overcome his sin nature. Each is also riding a different beast, allowing them to swiftly come to your location and stay until their work is done.



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