Five Pehar Kings
MediumPigments, gilding on sized cloth
DimensionsWork : 6 1/4 x 5 1/2 x 1/2 in. (15.88 x 13.97 x 1.27 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
Legend says that Pehar was a malevolent nature spirit who was tamed by the Indian guru Padmasambhava and transformed into a protector of Buddhism sometime around the 8th century CE. He is often represented by five mounted warrior kings who signify the different aspects of Pehar’s body, mind, speech, attributes, and actions. The five Pehar kings can be portrayed individually or together in varying formations. In these two paintings, the three-faced, six-armed Actions King appears in the center of the composition, riding a white lion and holding an axe, a sword, a bow and arrow, a knife and a mace. The other four kings appear in the corners of the image, with the Attributes King appearing in the upper left corner riding a black mule and holding an axe; the Speech King appearing in the upper right corner riding a gray horse and holding a club; the Mind King appearing in the lower right corner riding a white elephant and holding a razor knife, and the Body King appearing in the lower-left corner riding a white lion and holding a vajra scepter. The figure at the top center of the painting is Secret Accomplishment Hayagriva. The figure at the bottom center of the painting is Damchen Garwa Nagpo.