Tibet

Magzor Gyalmo

Tibet, ca. 18th century

Bronze, gilt, and pigment

6¼ × 4¾ × 2½ in. (15.9 × 12.1 × 6.4 cm)

Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas, 1982.38

 

Piece Description:

In Tibetan Buddhism, there are Eight Enlightened Dharmapalas who serve as protectors (Skt. pala) of the Buddhist Law (Skt. Dharma). Magzor Gyalmo, the only female in the group, often appears as shown here, riding sidesaddle on a mule, traveling in a sea of blood. This fearsome protector stands to defend against delusion, passion, and ignorance that obstruct the path to enlightenment.

 

Magzor Gyalmo, the Goddess Who Repels Armies, is the wrathful emanation of Shri Devi (T: Palden Lhamo), the Hindu Great Goddess of pre-Buddhist legend and activating female energy of the universe. One tale that establishes the iconography of this object is that when she was incarnated as a Queen of Sri Lanka, she objected strenuously to her husband’s practice of human sacrifice. She threatened to kill their son if her husband did not cease. When he did not stop this practice, she killed their son and spread his flayed skin over her mule as a saddle blanket. His head hangs between the mule’s legs. While fleeing her husband’s kingdom, he fired an arrow that pierced the mule’s haunch. The wound was transformed into an eye by the Goddess to aid her in her mission to watch over devotees.

 

 

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