Pehar Gyalpo

Accession Number

Pehar Gyalpo


Object Creation Date
19th century?

Medium & Support
ink, gouache, and gold pigment on cotton

17 13/16 in. x 13 3/4 in. ( 45.3 cm x 34.9 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Caroline I. Plumer for the James Marshall Plumer Collection

Subject matter
At the center of this complex composition is a large, white-skinned figure with six arms, each bearing a weapon, and three heads (one white, one blue, and one red, each with three eyes), wearing a helmet: this is Pehar Gyalpo, originally a non-Buddhist spirit invited to Tibet in the eighth century by Guru Padmasambhava to serve as protector of Tibet's first Buddhist monastery, Samye. Pehar is shown astride a snow lion (a white lion with a green mane; the symbol of the Tibetan state). At his fee are three similar wrathful protector deites, mounted (from right to left) on a lion, a horse, and an elephant; two more, both mounted on horses, are in the upper corners. Each of the mounted figures is enveloped in flames, of varying colors. At the very top center of the painting is a portrait of a monk, possibly a representation of Padmasambhava. The entire scene is set in a blue-and-green mountainous landscape.

Physical Description
A portable painting in mineral pigments and gold on a primed cotton ground; the painting is designed to be rolled up when not in use. The painting was folded at some time in its history, resulting in a loss of pigment along two vertical lines.

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