Attributes of dPal-Idan Lha-mo (Rematī) in a "rgyan tshogs" banner. Distemper painting by a Tibetan painter.

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Fifteen banners from a Tibetan Protector chapel.
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About this work


The banner is devoted to Rematī, the wrathful aspect of Śrīdevī. The Tibetan name of her most wrathful form is dPal-Idan Lha-mo (Magzor Palden Lhamo). She is the principal protectress of the Gelukpa tradition

Along the top edge of the painting are suspended the flayed skins of an elephant, a human and a tiger, garlanded with viscera and eyes on stalks. They are flanked by motifs representing the eight auspicious symbols: on the right a mirror and conch shell, and on the left an umbrella, wheel, unending knot, lotus, fishes, and victory banner. At the top right there is also a peacock quill with a green scarf wound round it. The six skull bowls holding the six sacramental substances are here depicted at each margin in two vertical columns of three (instead of the usual two horizontal rows of three). Those on the left, starting from the top, are filled with a liver, kidneys and blood, those on the right with a heart, intestines and a fire gtor ma (offering cake). Below the skull bowls are are a pair of cymbals on the left and a pair of shin-bone trumpets on the right

The central figure of Rematī is represented beneath a magnificent canopy of peacock feathers serving as her hat. Her head is surmounted by a diadem of five dry skulls. She is adorned by garlands of freshly severed human heads and of snakes, and rides a white mule with an eye on its rump, which is the place where her irate husband's arrow found a mark: she had killed her son and used his flayed skin as a saddle blanket. Alongside are her two hand-held attributes: on the left, a sceptre with a vajra-shaped point, and, on the right, a blood-filled skull

Below the mule is a large central gtor-ma (offering cake) with a smaller one on each side. The finial of the main gtor-ma is formed by the emblem of sun and moon, which is flanked by king's and queen's earrings. On the left and the right edge of the painting is half a pagoda. Around the gtor-ma are, on the left, two elephant tusks, two dark blue book covers held together by a red ribbon, a plant wrapped in a red scarf, and three fly-whisks, and on the right a rhinoceros horn. There are four black animal mounts: left, possibly a ram and a gazelle, and right, a galloping horse and a snow leopard. At the bottom margin on each side, a prostrate human skeleton and detached bones



Physical description

1 painting : distemper on linen ; distemper 62 x 48 cm.


Inscription on the top of the back of the banner gives its position in the temple as the third on the right-hand side

References note

Marianne Winder, Catalogue of Tibetan manuscripts and xylographs, and catalogue of thankas, banners and other paintings and drawings in the Library of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London 1989, pp. 93-94, thankas banners and paintings no. 33
Gyurme Dorje, 'A rare series of Tibetan banners', in N. Allan (ed.), Pearls of the orient: Asian treasures of the Wellcome Library, London 2003, pp. 161-177 (p. 168-169 and fig. 7)


Wellcome Collection 47083i

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