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Bronze Figure of Palden Lhamo, Mongolia, 18th Century


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Collection No. TA-87
Size Height: 42 cm
Bronze Figure of Palden Lhamo, Mongolia, 18th Century
Bronze Figure of Palden Lhamo, Mongolia, 18th Century
Bronze Figure of Palden Lhamo, Mongolia, 18th Century
Bronze Figure of Palden Lhamo, Mongolia, 18th Century, Exhibited and Published in “The art of compassion” 2018 P24.

Palden Lhamo is one of Mongolia’s great protector deities. She was widely regarded in Tibet as its national protector and her role included safeguarding both the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, as well as Lhasa city itself. In Mongolia, she had a similar role and protected cities and monasteries. She rides a mule and holds a vajra club, as well as a skull cup (missing here), and sits atop a flayed human skin as a saddle blanket. Her steed rides through an ocean of blood contained by writhing snakes. Her attendants are the Makara-headed dakini (Makara means ‘water demon’; dakini means ‘female wisdomholder’), depicted with a trunk, and the lion-headed dakini holding a chopper. They are respectively known as Makaravaktra and Simhavaktra. Her horse has a mirror on its head to reflect evil and Palden Lhamo usually holds a bag of diseases to spread over her enemies.

The imagery is very gruesome and easy to misinterpret. Palden Lhamo would be better regarded in the way of the Tibetans and Mongols; that is, that no such monstrous form actually exists, but that her form sums up the necessary sense of power, determination and rage necessary to protect the Buddha’s teachings from its enemies.

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