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Palden Lhamo and her Retinue

(Magzor Gyalmo)

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Palden Lhamo and her Retinue :

This complex composition is a completely accurate copy of an early twentieth century thangka that was previously housed in the Potala Palace in Lhasa, which depicts the ‘Glorious Goddess’ Shri Devi or Palden Lhamo in her form as Magzor Gyalmo (Tib. dMag-zor gyal-mo), the ‘Queen Who Averts Armies or Warfare’. In this aspect Palden Lhamo serves as the main female protector of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet, of the Land of Tibet itself and its capital Lhasa, and as a personal protector of the successive lineage of Dalai Lamas. Because of this she is especially popular in the Gelug tradition, and to a lesser extent in the Sakya tradition, as in most of her pictorial representations the Gelug hierarch, Tsongkhapa, appears directly above her. The Tibetan term dmag-zor essentially refers to a magical spell or charm that can repulse an invading army, and as a principal protector of the ‘Land of Snow’ she appears here with her retinue of the ‘Five Long-life Sisters’ and the twelve ‘Tenma Goddesses’ who guard the land, lakes and mountain passes of Tibet. In Sanskrit this ‘Glorious Goddess’ (Shri Devi) is also known as Remati or Mahakali, and she is essentially regarded as a wrathful manifestation of the wisdom goddess Sarasvati.


Full Description

At the top centre is Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa (1357-1419), the founder of the Gelug or ‘virtuous path’ school of Tibetan Buddhism who are characterized by their yellow-hats. In 1410 Tsongkhapa established Ganden Monastery, the Tibetan name for the heavenly realm of Tushita, and became the first throne-holder or Ganden Tripa of this great monastery. Tsongkhapa appointed Gyeltsabje Darma Rinchen (1364-1432) as his successor as the second Ganden Tripa, who in turn appointed Khedrubje Gelek Pelzang (1385-1438) as his successor. Tsongkhapa sits on a moon disc and lotus amidst the clouds, wearing monastic robes and the pointed yellow hat of scholar. He makes the dharmachakra-mudra or teaching-gesture as he holds the stems of two blue lotus flowers that bear Manjushri’s wisdom attributes of a sword and book. Gyaltsabje (left), and Khedrubje (right), are both seated on the cushions of their lion-thrones with an altar table at their sides. With his right hand Gyaltsabje holds the stem of a blue lotus bearing the wisdom emblems of a sword and book, while holding a golden eight-spoke wheel in his left hand. Khedrubje makes the abhaya-mudra of protection with his right hand, and holds a golden treasure-vase in his left hand.

Magzor Gyalmo (dMag-zor gyal-mo), the ‘Army Repulsing Queen’, sits sidesaddle upon a wild yellow-brown Tibetan mule (kyang) with a white blaze upon its forehead, which she rides above a swirling ocean of blood and fat. She is blue-black in colour, with one face, two arms, and three eyes, and she abides amidst a ‘tent-like’ maelstrom of swirling green-black wind and fiery orange friction sparks. With her right hand she wields aloft a long red sandalwood club, with which she pulverizes the brains of vow-breakers. This club is topped with a wrathful five-pointed golden vajra with open prongs, and a billowing green silk ribbon is tied to its shaft. With her left in front of her heart she holds the upturned skull of a ‘misbegotten’ child that was born from an incestuous union. Part of the child’s scalp is still attached to the top of the skull, and its interior is filled with magical ‘charm blood’ and a human heart. She is extremely fierce and wrathful, with powerful limbs, a potbelly, sagging breasts, and sharp curved nails on her fingers and toes. Her forehead is smeared with cremation ash, specks of fresh blood are on the ‘three bulges’ of her cheeks and chin, and her throat is smeared with white human fat.

Her young mule gallops swiftly on ‘wings of the wind’, and gazes back fiercely with raised ears, its braying mouth revealing its sharp white teeth and twisting red tongue. A magical golden divination mirror with hanging silk valances adorns the mule’s crown, and its golden neck harness is adorned with round golden bells and a white skull with an ornament of silk tassels hanging below. The mule’s bridle and reins are fashioned from long poisonous blue-black serpents, by which it is led by the makara-faced dakini who proceeds in front of Magzor Gyalmo. Her serpent reins pass through the mule’s golden breast ornament that bears a severed head, and then through the eye of a cannibal’s skull. The upper part of this white skull forms the front spur of her saddle, with its detached jawbone forming her saddle’s rear spur. The mule’s saddle blanket is made from the flayed skin of her own son, who was a rakshasa or cannibal-demon, with his fierce head hanging downward and his fleshless limbs twisted and knotted around the mule’s body. On the mule’s rump is a third eye that gazes backward, and the symbolism of these three eyes represents the goddess’s magical ability to gaze over the three realms and the three times of past, present and future.

Hanging upon an entwined serpent at the front of her saddle are three of Magzor Gyalmo’s ‘five magical weapons’, these are: the ‘bundle of red curses’, the ‘human-skin sack filled with contagious diseases’, and the pair of ‘black and white spotted divination dice’. Her fourth magical weapon, the ‘ball of variegated thread’, hangs from a serpent’s tail at the back of her saddle. Her fifth magical weapon is the ‘scored tally stick’ (khram-shing), which is made of red sandalwood and marked with symbolic notches that can counteract curses and punish vow-breakers. This tally stick is tucked into the two entwined serpents that form the belt of her tiger-skin loincloth or ‘hair petticoat’. A billowing cloak of embroidered green-black silk is knotted around her neck, and over this hangs a flayed human-skin that covers her back, with its head to her right and its limbs fluttering outwards. She wears golden bracelets, armlets, anklets, necklaces and earrings that are studded with coral, pearls and gemstones, and the five bone ornaments fashioned from filigree shards of human bone. Hanging around her neck is a long garland of blood-dripping severed heads that are strung together on a cord of twisted intestines, and around her ankles are chained iron fetters that she is described as having broken asunder.

Her neck is taught and she frowns angrily with an extremely fierce expression as wind billows from her snout-like nose. She has three round and piercing red eyes, sharp white teeth, four crescent-shaped fangs, and the tawny facial hair of her cheeks, chin and eyebrows blazes upward like tongues of fire. Her gaping mouth is like a furnace for burnt offerings, and her long red tongue twists like lightening as she bites down upon the small human corpse that lies within her jaws A roaring white lion leaps from behind her right ear, and a hissing blue snake strikes outward from behind her left ear. Her golden tiara is fastened by a green silk ribbon and adorned with blue flowers and five jewel-topped dry white skulls, which are linked together with delicate golden loops. Her tawny orange hair-locks twist upward to the left above her crown, the disc of a golden sun blazes from her navel, the disc of a white full moon adorns her crown, and above her head floats a parasol fashioned from peacock-feathers that symbolizes the perfection of all her activities.

From the crown of Magzor Gyalmo’s head emanates a swirling gale of dark storm clouds that stream out on both sides of her head, upon which ride the ‘Queens of the Four Seasons’ (Tib. dus-kyi rgyal mo). These four goddess-queens are all extremely wrathful, with three round red eyes, a gaping mouth, four sharp fangs, and tawny upward streaming hair. They wear five-skull crowns and their naked bodies are adorned with the five bone ornaments.

The Queen of Spring (Skt. Vasanta Rajni; Tib. dPyid-kyi rgyal-mo) appears in the east (outer left). She is dark blue in colour and rides upon a wild brown mule. She holds a wave-bladed knife in her right hand, and a skull-cup of blood in her left hand.

The Queen of Summer (Skt. Varsa Rajni; Tib. dByar-gyi rgyal-mo) appears in the south (inner left). She is dark red in colour, wears a billowing green silk scarf, and rides upon a blue buffalo. She holds a hook or club in her right hand, and a skull-cup full of blood in her left hand.

The Queen of Autumn (Skt. Sharad Rajni; Tib. sTon-gyi rgyal-mo) appears in the west (inner right). She is yellow in colour, wears a shawl made from peacock feathers, and rides upon a hornless brown stag. She holds a sickle in her right hand, and a skull-cup full of blood in her left hand.

The Queen of Winter (Skt. Hemanta Rajni; Tib. dGun-gyi rgyal-mo) appears in the north (outer right). She is dark blue and rides upon a brown camel with a white blaze upon its forehead. She holds a magical notched tally-stick in her right hand, and a skull-cup full of blood in her left hand.


Accompanying Magzor Gyalmo to the front and rear of her mule are her two animal-headed attendants or ‘mental projections’, the makara or crocodile-headed Makaravakra, and the lion-headed dakini Simhavaktra.

Makaravakra (Chu-srin gdong-can) is blue-black in colour with the ferocious horns, snout, and scaled pink head of a ‘crocodile’ or water-monster. She has an upward-streaming mane of tawny hair, wears a flayed human-skin shawl across her back, and her naked body is adorned with the five bone ornaments. In her left hand she holds the serpent rein of Magzor Gyalmo’s mule as she leads the Glorious Goddess forward in a striding posture, and with her right hand she holds aloft a vajra-snare or rope-noose.

Simhavakra (Seng-ge’i gdong-can) is naked and red in colour with the ferocious head of a roaring white lion with a tawny mane. She wears a flayed human-skin shawl across her back, a single skull on her crown, and her naked body is adorned with the five bone ornaments. In a striding dance posture she follows behind the Glorious Goddess whilst offering a skull-cup full of blood in her extended left hand, and wielding a curved-knife with an open pronged vajra-handle in her raised right hand.


In the lower area of this composition are two important groups of goddesses who traditionally appear in the retinue of Magzor Gyalmo, these are the Tashi Tsering Chenga, the ‘Five Auspicious Long-life Sisters’, and the Tenma Chunyi, the ‘Twelve Tenma’ goddesses.


Tashi Tsering Chenga (bkra-shis tshe-ring mched-lnga)

Tashi Tseringma is the principal deity of this group of five female protectors known as the Tashi Tsering Chenga, or the ‘five auspicious long-life sisters’, who are particularly associated with the lineages of Padmasambhava and Milarepa. Originally this group of aboriginal mountain deities of the menmo (sman-mo) or ‘medicine goddess’ class were associated with a five-peaked mountain on the border of Tibet and Nepal, which is usually either identified with the peaks of the Everest Range or with the Gaurishankar range. Gaurishankar lies midway between Everest and Kathmandu, and the mountain is named after Shiva (Shankar) and his consort Gauri (Parvati). In Tibetan this mountain is still commonly known as Jowo Tseringma.

These five long-life sisters are closely associated with the lineage of Jetsun Milarepa and his close disciples. Especially Gampopa (1079-1153), whose students then transmitted the practices of Tashi Tseringma Chenga into the four major and eight minor schools of the Kagyu tradition. In his biography Milarepa relates how he was once meditating in his hermitage at Chubar, on the lower slopes of Gaurishankar in southern Tibet, when an assembly of demonic spirits led by five powerful goddesses came to test his resolve. Milarepa swiftly dissolved the delusions and temptations of these demonic spirits by means of his selfless compassion, leaving only the five goddesses, whom he first subjugated and then gave them various initiations and instructions on the generation and completion stages of meditation practice. Soon after the five sisters again approached Milarepa bearing the sensory gifts of incense, food, music, silk garments and flowers, and offering their bodies, speech and minds to him as willing consorts in the practice of karma-mudra. The sister who gained the greatest realization through this practice was Tashi Tseringma. Thereafter the five sisters vowed to protect Milarepa’s lineage, and he considered them to be the most devoted of his non-human disciples, who outwardly appeared as medicine goddesses, inwardly as field-protectors, and secretly as dakini consorts of the Five Buddhas.

Within the Kagyu tradition they are also associated with the Mahasiddha Kanhapa or Krishnacharya, who previously had oath-bound them in an Indian charnel ground. And Jamgon Khontrul Lodro Thaye (1813-1899) gives several accounts of how the five sisters appeared, assisted and renewed their vows with other great Kagyu lineage masters. The 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193), first introduced the Tashi Tsering Chenga practices into the Karma Kagyu tradition that he founded, and the sisters also frequently appeared to the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, the 6th Sharmapa Chokyi Wangchuk, the 8th Tai Situpa Chokyi Jungne, the 9th Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje, and the 15th Karmapa Khakyab Dorje. The 2nd Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche, and Drikung Choying Rangdrol were also instrumental in receiving and transmitting their practices within their respective Drukpa Kagyu and Drigung Kagyu traditions.

In Tibet their places of residence were originally identified with five glacial lakes of different coloured waters that are situated on the Tibetan slopes of Gaurishankar: and a similar tradition exists in Bhutan, where their individual residences are all located within the Paro Valley. Their importance as oath-bound protectors in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions is not so strongly recognized in the Gelugpa tradition, where they are more often viewed as mundane or worldly deities. However, a protector chapel devoted to the worship of Tashi Tseringma and her four sisters exists on the upper floor of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, which is still frequently visited by many Tibetan pilgrims.


1. Tashi Tseringma (bkra-shis tshe-ring-ma)

Tashi Tseringma, the ‘Auspicious Long-life Lady’, dominates the central position of these two groups of seventeen goddesses, who appear amidst the billowing clouds, hills, cliffs and swirling water of the lower landscape. She is white in colour with two eyes, and a sweetly smiling face that has a blissful yet slightly wrathful expression. She is described as being long-lived like a diamond, and appears here with a radiant blue aura and a red halo. Tashi Tseringma is venerated as the foremost dakini for bestowing longevity, and she traditionally appears at the centre of this auspicious group of five sisters. Amidst billowing blue clouds she sits sidesaddle upon the silk saddlecloth of her roaring white lion, which has a swirling red mane, tail and leg fringes. She wears the five divine silk garments and eight jeweled ornaments of a sambhoghakaya goddess, and her long black hair is piled up into a topknot above her five-jeweled tiara, which is described as being adorned with a white conch shell. With her raised right hand she wields aloft a golden five-pointed vajra, and with her left hand she holds a nectar-filled golden longevity vase in front of her heart.


2. Tingi Zhelzangma (mthing-gi zhel-bzang-ma)

Tingi Zhelzangma, the ‘Beautiful Blue-faced Lady’, appears to the east (lower left) of Tseringma, and she rides upon the silk saddlecloth of a wild brown ass (kyang) with a white blaze upon its muzzle. She is slightly wrathful and deep blue in colour with two eyes, and she is venerated as the foremost dakini for bestowing clairvoyance through mirror divination. She wears lower garments and a bodice of multicoloured silks, golden ornaments, a five-jeweled crown, and her topknot is adorned with a sapphire gem. With her raised right hand she holds the golden shaft of a banner of the gods adorned with a silken triple-valance that billows inward, and with her left hand she holds a silver divination mirror that faces outward.

3. Miyo Lobzangma (mi-gyo blo-bzang-ma)

Miyo Lobzangma, the ‘Immovable Noble-minded Lady’ is golden-yellow in colour with two eyes, and she is venerated as the foremost dakini for bestowing food and prosperity. She appears to the south (left) of Tseringma and rides amidst billowing clouds upon the silk saddlecloth of a fierce lactating tigress. She wears garments of multicoloured silks, golden ornaments and a five-jeweled crown, and her topknot is adorned with a golden jewel. With her extended right hand she makes the boon-granting varada-mudra as she generously offers sustenance from the golden bowl full of delicious food that she holds before her heart with her left hand.


4. Chopen Drinzangma (mchod-pan mgrin-bzang-ma)

Chopen Drizangma, the ‘Crowned Fair-necked Lady’, is red in colour with two eyes, is she revered as the foremost dakini for bestowing jewels or replenishing a treasury. She appears to the west or rear (lower right) of Tseringma and rides amidst billowing clouds upon a young deer or hornless hind. She wears garments of multicoloured silks, golden ornaments, a five-jeweled crown, and her topknot is adorned with a red coral gemstone. With her right hand she holds aloft a radiant nine-faceted jewel, and with her left hand she holds a golden treasure casket in front of her heart.


5. Tekar Drozangma (gtad-dkar ‘gro-bzang-ma)

Tekar Drozangma, the ‘Noble-acting White Sorceress’, is green in colour with two eyes, and she is venerated as the foremost dakini for bestowing livestock and the finest cattle. She appears to the north (right) of Tseringma and rides amidst billowing clouds upon a turquoise-blue female dragon that clutches a precious jewel in each of its sharp claws. She wears garments of multicoloured silks, golden ornaments, a five-jeweled crown, and her topknot is adorned with a turquoise jewel. With her raised right hand she holds aloft a bunch of durva grass that wards off evil curses, and with her left hand she holds a serpent-noose or snare.



Tenma Chunyi (Tib. brtan-ma bcu-gnyis)

The Tenma Chunyi appear as a group of twelve ancient pre-Buddhist goddesses of the tenma (brtan-ma) class, who serve as local protectors of Tibet, and are affiliated as a subordinate retinue to the Tashi Tsering Chenga, or ‘five auspicious sisters’, that are described above. According to tradition these twelve Tibetan Tenma goddesses first came to Padmasambhava’s ‘Asura Cave’ at Parping in Nepal while he was in the process of subduing, converting and oath-binding many local deities and spirits to serve as protectors of the Dharma. When Padmasambhava asked them who they were, where they resided and what work they did, the goddesses explained that they had guarded the land of Tibet and now wished to offer him their life-hearts. Other traditions relate that the Tenma Chunyi goddesses were at first hostile to the spread of Buddhism in Tibet before they were defeated and oath-bound by Padmasambhava at the ‘Kharag Cave’, or at Uyug in Tsang Province, where he composed a sadhana for realizing the accomplishments of these twelve goddesses before concealing this text as a terma treasure.

Like Tashi Tseringma and her sisters, most of the twelve Tenmas are local mountain goddesses, six of whom serve as guardians for narrow-ledged mountain passes. One of the five terma ‘chronicles’ (thang-yig) discovered by Urgyan Lingpa (circa 1323-1367) describe how Dorje Yubunma, the fifth of the Tenma Chunyi goddesses, who protected the Shangshung area of Western Tibet, once miraculously transformed herself into two mountains in order to crush Padmasambhava as he walked through the narrow pass between them. But Padmasambhava was one step ahead of her and first used his khatvanga to reduce the two mountains to rubble, before threateningly pointing his finger at her in subjugation, and finally oath-binding her with the Buddhist name of Yumchen Dorje Yubunma.

Most of the lists and descriptions of the Tenma Chunyi goddesses come from Nyingma sources and reveal a considerable amount of variations in their iconography, names, titles, secret names, residences, locations, mounts, colours and attributes: However, the descriptions given below essentially accord with their appearances in the retinue of Paldan Lhamo. The twelve Tenma are commonly divided into three groups of four goddesses, with the first being the leader of her particular group of four. The first group is known as the ‘great female demons or maras’ (bdud-mo chen-mo) who were once black and ugly: the second as the ‘great female yakshis’ (gnod-sbyin chen-mo) or ‘harm-bringers’, who were once red and fierce; and the third as the ‘great medicine spirits or menmo’ (sman-mo chen-mo) who were white and peaceful. These three classes of spirits loosely characterize the qualities of each group, with the menmo being connected to natural locations where medicinal plants are found. The four great yakshis are often described as occupying the cardinal directions of the first circular retinue around Tashi Tseringma and her four sisters, with the four great maras or demons occupying the second circle, and the four great menmo the third circle.
The first four Tenma goddesses in the group of the four ‘great female maras’ appear in the upper and middle row on the left side of this painting: The second group of the four ‘great yakshis’ appear in the bottom left row and the top right row; and the third group of the four ‘great menmos’ appear in the middle and bottom row in the lower right corner.
The worship of these goddesses is described as being best performed in an isolated and beautiful environment, such as a mountain valley where medicinal trees and flowers grow in abundance. The offerings used in their ritual practices are mainly peaceful in nature and include medicinal tormas (sman-gtor), a silver or bronze mirror, vermilion powder, divination dice, a crystal and peacock feathers.


1. Dhag-nyi Chenmo Dorje Kundrakma (bDag-nyid chen-mo rdo-rje kun-grags-ma)

Dorje Kundrakma, who was formerly known as Dagnyi Chenmo, is the first Tenma goddess and the first of the four ‘great female maras’, and she resides at Lake Namtso, the ‘heavenly lake’ near Nakchu in central Tibet. She is azure or sky-blue in colour, appears in the east, and rides upon a turquoise-blue that clutches jewels in each of its claws. She wears garments of multicoloured silks and jewel ornaments. With her right hand she holds a crocodile-skin victory-banner (Skt. makara-dhvaja), and with her left hand she holds a silver divination mirror. In this composition she appears at the top right of the left corner.


2. Paldan Hari Dorje Yamakyong (dPal-ldan lHa-ri rdo-rje gya’ ma skyong)

Dorje Yamakyong, formerly know as Palden Hari, is the second Tenma goddess and the second of the four ‘great maras’, and she resides at Mt. Jomolhari on the border of Tibet and Bhutan. She is yellow in colour, appears in the south, and rides upon a wild brown Tibetan ass or khyang. She wears multicoloured silk garments and jewel ornaments. With her right hand she holds aloft an iron sword, and with her left hand she holds a rope-noose or vajra-snare. In this composition she appears at the top left of the left corner.


3. Gangkyi Yumchen Dorje Kunzangma (Gangs-kyi yum chen-mo rdo-rje kun-bzang-ma)

Dorje Kunzangma, formerly known as Gangkyi Yumchen, is the third Tenma goddess and the third of the four ‘great maras’, and she resides at Mt. Lapchi Kang in southern Tibet. She is red in colour, appears in the west, and rides upon a snow-lion. She wears multicoloured silk garments and jeweled ornaments. With her right hand she holds aloft a golden vajra, and with her left hand she holds a skull-cup full of nectar. In this composition she appears at the middle right of the left corner.


4. Drokchen Khordul Dorje Geg-kyi-tso (‘Brog-chen ‘khor-dul rdo-rje bgegs-kyi-gtso)

Dorje Gegkyitso, formerly known as Drokchen Khordulma, is the fourth Tenma goddess and the fourth of the four ‘great maras’, and she resides at Lake Yamdrok Yumtso in southern Tibet. She is blue-black in colour, appears in the north, and rides upon a brown mule. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds a spear-flag adorned with a white silk ensign and a sharp tip, and with her left hand she holds a rope-noose or vajra-snare. In this composition she appears at the middle left of the left corner.


5. Gangkar Shamey Dorje Chenchikma (Gangs-dkar sha-med rdo-rje spyan-gcig-ma)

Dorje Chenchikma, formerly known as Gankar Shamema, is the fifth Tenma goddess and the first in the group of four ‘great yakshini’, and she resides at Mt. Lhapu Gang in the Derge region of Tibet. She is white in colour, appears in the east, and rides upon a stag with no antlers. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds aloft an iron sickle with a golden handle, and with her left hand she holds a golden treasure vase. She is also known as Dorje Yubunma (rdo-rje gyu-bun-ma), and is recognized in some traditions as the leader of the twelve Tenma goddesses. In this composition she appears at the bottom right of the left corner.

The name Gangkar Shamey Dorje Chenchikma literally means the ‘snow-white and fleshless vajra one-eyed lady’, and a legend relates how she once hurled a thunderbolt at Padmasambhava, who miraculously transformed it into a water-filled vase that he held on his palm. Awestruck by this miracle, she prostrated before him and ran into a lake. Padmasambhava then place his vajra on the surface of the lake, causing its water to boil, which blinded the goddess’s right eye and separated her flesh from her bones. In skeletal form she then begged forgiveness from Padmasambhava, who oath-bound her to protect the Dharma and then gave her this name.


6. Kharak Khyungtsun Dorje Pelgi Yum (Kha-rag khyung-btsun rdo-rje dpal-gyi-yum)

Dorje Pelgyi Yum, formerly known as Kharak Khyungtsunma, is the sixth Tenma goddess and the second of the four ‘great yakshini’, and she resides at Mt. Jomo Kharag in Tsang province. She is white in colour, appears in the south, and rides upon the back of a variegated flying garuda. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds a wooden damaru with silk valances, and with her left hand she holds a silver mirror. In this composition she appears at the bottom left of the left corner.


7. Serchen Khading Dorje Lumo (gSer-chen mkha’ lding rdo-rje klu-mo)

Dorje Lumo, formerly known as Serchen Khadingma, is the seventh Tenma goddess and the third of the four ‘great yakshini’, and she resides at Lake Domar Tso near Jangto in central Tibet. She is light red or reddish-white in colour, appears in the west, and rides upon a brown thoroughbred horse. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she wields a serpent-snare aloft, and with her left hand she holds a golden treasure vase in front of her heart. In this composition she appears at the top left of the lower right corner.


8. Mari Rabjam Dorje Drakmo Gyal (rMa-ri rab-‘byams rdo-rje drag-mo rgyal)

Dorje Drakmo Gyal, formerly known as Mari Rabjam, is the eighth Tenma goddess and the fourth of the four ‘great yakshini’. In certain traditions she is also regarded as the leader of the Tenma goddesses and the consort of the mountain-god Machen Pomra. She resides at Mt. Machen Pomra in Amdo province, and at Gephal mountain behind Drepung Monastery near Lhasa. She is white in colour, appears in the north, she rides upon a wolf or wild dog. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds a vajra-topped red sandalwood club, and with her left hand she holds a golden bowl full of jewels. In this composition she appears at the top right of the lower right corner.


9. Kongtsun Demo Dorje Pokham Kyong (Kong-btsun de-mo rdo-rje bod-khams-skyong)

Dorje Pokham Kyong, formerly known as Kongtsun Demo is the ninth Tenma goddess and the first of the four ‘great manmo goddesses’, and she resides at Drenadong in Kongpo. She is brown in colour, appears in the east, and leaps towards the right as she rides upon the billowing wind-clouds. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds aloft a long-life arrow adorned with silk ribbons, and with her left hand she holds a golden treasure casket. In this composition she appears at the middle left of the lower right corner.


10. Tsenla Laro Dorje Menchikma (bTsan-la la-ro rdo-rje sman-gcig-ma)

Dorje Menchikma, formerly known as Tsenla Laro or Drogtsen, is the tenth Tenma goddess and the second of the four ‘great manmo goddesses’, and she resides at Mt. Tsenla Laro. She is green in colour, appears in the south, and rides upon a grey crossbreed female yak or dro. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds aloft a flowing length of white silk cloth, and with her left hand she holds a golden bowl bearing a wish-granting torma that provides whatever food one desires. In this composition she appears at the middle right of the lower right corner.


11. Mentsun Chenmo Dorje Yamosil (sMan-btsun chen-mo rdo-rje g.ya’ mo-bsil)

Dorje Yamosil, formerly known as Mentsun Chenmo or Mentsun Ugchoma, is the eleventh Tenma goddess and the third of the four ‘great manmo goddesses’, and she resides at Jomo Nakgyal in Tsang. She is red in colour, appears in the west, and rides upon a hornless young deer or stag. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds a blazing nine-faceted gem in front of her heart, and with her left hand she holds a silver ting-sha or cymbal. In this composition she appears at the bottom left of the lower right corner.


12. Yuyi Drilbu Dorje Zulema (gYu-yi dril-bu rdo-rje zu-le-ma)

Dorje Zulema, formerly known as Yuyi Drilbuma, is the twelfth Tenma goddess and the fourth of the four ‘great manmo goddesses’, and she resides at Jomo Yuyi in Do-Khams. She is yellowish red in colour, appears in the north, and rides upon a fierce tigress. She wears multicoloured silk garments and golden ornaments. With her right hand she holds the stem of a blue utpala lotus flower, and with her left hand she holds and rings a ritual-bell or ghanta). In this composition she appears at the bottom right of the lower right corner.

© text by Robert Beer

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