Palden Lhamo Dusolma

Palden Lhamo (Sanskrit: Shri Devi) counts among the primary protector deities of Tibetan Buddhism. Here she is shown in her “smoke-clad” form (Dusolma) riding a white-nosed donkey and surrounded by flames and billowing clouds of smoke. Her emaciated form is suggested by her sunken chest and gaunt limbs. To her left and right and below her are members of her retinue, which includes three mounted ferocious female attendants. Each of these frightening figures holds a skull cup and heart in her hands. At the top center is the Bhutanese Drukpa School hierarch Shabdrung Ngagwang Namgyal (1594–1651), who was also founder of the Bhutanese theocratic state.

This Bhutanese painting combines a black background with a small portion of blue-green landscape at the bottom of the canvas, creating the sense that one is looking beyond coastal rocks onto an ocean of blood under a black sky. The edges of clouds, smoke, flames, and rocks are highlighted in gold and form an irradiant setting for the black goddess. The rocks in the foreground feature flowers and birds unimpressed by the wild hunt taking place around them.

Geographic Origin
Pigments on cloth

23 x 17 1/2 in.

Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
F1996.11.4, HAR440