Attributes of Cimara (gNod-sbyin rTsiu-dmar-po) in a "rgyan tshogs" banner. Distemper painting by a Tibetan painter.
- Part of:
- Fifteen banners from a Tibetan Protector chapel.
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About this work
The painting represents Cimara (Tsiyu Marpo, rTsi'u-dmar-po), an important protector of the Samye Monastery, and the leader of the warrior ghosts (btsan) who can induce colic and abdominal spasm. He is one of the 'world protectors' ('jig-rten-pa'i sruṅ-ma), a group of lower deities in the Tibetan pantheon. He is also a Dharmapāla ('protector of teachings')
Along the top edge are six skull bowls filled with the six sacramental substances: entrails; three eyes, tongue, ears, nose and skin; kidneys; indeterminate; blood; and three pyramids. Suspended between them are a conch, mirror, lute, gong, and roll or pennant of silk. Immediately underneath them are the double skull-drum and pair of shin-bone trumpets. At the centre is the leather helmet of Cimara, inset with three eyes and a band of small skulls, each of which is adorned with a vulture feather. The form of Cimara is represented by an ornate collar, robe, cuirass of scorpion shells, and boots, as well as by the red silken banner and red rope-snare which are his hand-implements
On the left of the central figure is a sṅags pa, a tantric practitioner, wearing a black broadbrimmed hat (on to which a wish-granting jewel has been pinned) and a face apron. He wields a ritual dagger and rope-snare. On the right is a monk who holds a staff and begging bowl. The tantric practitioner and the monk represent the 500 of each who are associated with Cimara. Below these are four further figures: on the left, a black woman making imprecations, and a red-robed, turban-clad man holding a feathered arrow; and on the right a green-hued person wearing a white turban and holding a covered vessel suspended from a rope, and an armour-clad soldier representing the battalions of the warrior ghosts
At the bottom, below the boots of Cimara, is a red offering-cake (gtor ma) in the form of a temple surmounted by a pointed tower to which a face mask is fastened, perhaps because the 'world protectors' are often represented in plays by people wearing deer masks. The mask seems to be ending in hook to which a rope is fastened. Under this tower is a lintel lined with skulls. Flanking the gtor ma are the black saddled horse that is Cimara's mount (top right), along with, on the left, a grey antelope, yak, monkey and white ram; and, on the right, a cockerel, red fox, white ram and grey monkey. In the lower left corner there is the motif of the Eight Auspicious Things, and in the lower right a five-storeyed pagoda
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