Palden Lhamo

DATE:
18th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Gouache on cloth
CLASSIFICATION:
Paintings
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 23 3/4 x 34 in. (60.325 x 86.36 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
305 BUDDHIST GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, Bromberg Family Wendover Fund
OBJECT NUMBER:
2005.48

General Description

At the center of this detailed 18th-century thangka is the wrathful goddess, or dharmapala, Palden Lhamo. An important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, Palden Lhamo is one of eight dharmapala, the wrathful deities whose task it is to protect the practice of Buddhism and avert both inner and outer obstacles on the path to enlightenment.

Palden Lhamo's terrifying face, hair of fire, bracelets of poison snakes, and other frightening attributes demonstrate that she conquers all danger. The wrathful goddess rides above an ocean of blood, indicating her ability to transcend the cycle of birth and death; she has reached enlightenment. The thangka is crowded with the many goddesses who function as heroic generals in Palden Lhamo's mystical army. The goddess's many powerful attributes and large retinue indicate her complete power to remove or transform obstacles that Buddhist practitioners may confront on the path to enlightenment.

Adapted from

  • Robert Warren Clark, "Palden Lhamo," in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 181.