Damchen Garwa Nagpo figurine






19th century


Casting, chasing, gem-setting, painting


Bronze, turquoise


Height 164 mm

COMMENT. The cast bronze figurine depicts Damchen Garwa Nagpo, who is sometimes considered the chief assistant to the worldly protector of Buddhist teachings named of Dorje Legpa (Sanskrit: Vajrasadhu), and sometimes one of its incarnations. The name of the deity (Tibetan: Dam chen gar wa nag po) in translation from the Tibetan language means "the blacksmith bound by a oath". According to legend, Damchen Garwa Nagpo was the son of the king of demons and became famous as a great armourer, and later entered the local Buddhist pantheon as a defender of the faith. In the arts, Damchen Garwa Nagpo is usually represented either as the main deity in the Dorje Legpa retinue, or as an independent figure with his own retinue in which some animals can be seen. Damchen Garwa Nagpo is portrayed as a wrathful two-armed deity of dark blue color with three eyes and naked fangs, sometimes with bright orange or brown hair flaming upwards. He often has the equipment of a blacksmith, namely a vajra hammer in his right hand and tigerskin bellows in his left. He rides a brown goat with twisted horns, which are a symbol of non-duality. Damchen Garwa Nagpo is generally found as a standard protector deity in the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Some monasteries of the Gelug tradition also recognized him as their special protector deity. An additional significance of Damchen Garva Nagpo is the patronage of blacksmithing.