Palden Lhamo figurine






18th century


Casting, chasing




Height 156 mm

COMMENT. The cast bronze figurine portrayed Palden Lhamo (Sanaskrit: Sri Devi; Mongolian: Baldan Lhamo) is the main protector in Tibetan Buddhism, the only female deity among the eight dharmapalas, the wrathful deities that protect Buddhist teachings and each individual Buddhist. Her name is translated from Tibetan means "Glorified Goddess". Palden Lhamo is considered the wrathful form of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, knowledge, art, beauty and eloquence. In Tibetan mythology, she draws closer to Kali, but among the Mongol peoples it appears as Ohin Tengri, the Great Mother. Palden Lhamo is portrayed as a ferocious goddess with blue-black skin, a grinning mouth, three eyes, flaming eyebrows, and red hair standing on end. She holds a club with vajra in one hand, and a bowl of skull in the other. The garment is a tiger skirt and beads from human heads, on the head is a crown with five skulls. Palden Lhamo rides a white or yellow mule with a trappings made of the skin of her own son. Initially, Palden Lhamo was the queen of Ceylon cannibal demons. Unsuccessfully trying to turn away her husband from cannibalism and human sacrifices, she in revenge killed their common son and made from his skin a trappings for a mule. According to another legend, Palden Lhamo killed her son because he was indifferent to Buddhist teachings. It is believed that Palden Lhamo heals from all diseases and is the keeper of the secrets of life and death. The goddess is especially influential in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, for the followers of which she is a special protector of Lhasa and the Dalai Lama.