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Attributes of Pañjaranātha, the tent protector, in a "rgyan tshogs" banner. Distemper painting by a Tibetan painter.

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About this work


The banner honours Pañjaranātha (in Tibetan, Gonpo Gur). Among the fourteen protectors guarding Vajrabhairava and his spiritual realizations, pride of place is given to Pañjaranātha, the 'Lord of the Tent', who is positioned to the left of the central banner. Pañjaranātha is one of the aspects of Mahākāla, propitiated above all in the protector chapels of the Sakyapa order

Along the top edge of the banner, three flayed human hides are depicted with the head and arms hanging downwards. Interspersed between them are various human viscera and eyes on stalks. A garland of entrails divides this part of the banner from the main section below, where an ornate blue tent symbolizes the black head of Pañjaranātha, flanked by two disk-shaped earrings and surmounted by a crown of five skulls, from each of which protrudes a wish-fulfilling jewel

Directly below the tent are the hand-emblems of Pañjaranātha: the vajra-handled chopper in the place of the neck, and the skull-cup, and between them the gadā or magical mace, which he carries in the crook of his two arms. Alongside these central symbols are six skull bowls, holding the six sacramental offerings of blood, solid and hollow viscera, sense organs, excrement, and flesh, and below these are a skull drum (left) and crossed shin-bone trumpets (right). Above in the corners are the raven and a mythical bird known as the garuḍa

Below, in the centre, is a triangular, flame-surrounded and flame-topped gtor ma (offering cake) dedicated to Pañjaranātha. It has the emblem of sun and moon as its finial, the chopper, skull and magical mace motif at its heart, and two black human figures with outstretched arms alongside. Surrounding it are a black bull, black horse, black dog, black yak and tiger (left) with a black horse, black bull, black ram, black jackal and black sea monster (right), with scattered human bones and skulls



Physical description

1 painting : distemper on linen ; distemper 62 x 47 cm.

Publications 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, p. 98, thankas banners and paintings no. 39
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 (pp. 165-166 and fig. 3)


Wellcome Library no. 47089i

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