The Five Gods of the Individual
MediumInk, pigments, and gilding on sized cloth with copper frame
DimensionsImage : 5 3/8 x 4 3/8 in. (13.65 x 11.11 cm)
Work : 6 1/4 x 4 5/8 x 1/2 in. (15.88 x 11.75 x 1.27 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
The Five Gods of the Individual are protector deities that are believed to reside in the bodies of all people. They appear in Mongolian art in various configurations. This painting shows Mo Lha, the only female among the Five Gods, at the center of the group riding on the back of a gray doe, holding a golden arrow and divination mirror. Mo Lha is believed to reside under a person’s left armpit. The figure in the upper left corner is Yul Lha. He is portrayed as a warrior riding on a white horse, wearing armor, and holding a bow and arrow. He is believed to reside on the crown of a person’s head. The figure in the upper right corner is Dra Lha. He is portrayed riding a white horse, wearing fine silk clothing, and holding a spear and a lasso. He is believed to reside on a person’s right shoulder. The figure in the lower right corner is Srog Lha. He is portrayed as a warrior riding a gray horse, wearing armor, and holding a spear and lasso. He is believed to reside in a person’s heart. The figure in the lower left corner is Po Lha. He is portrayed as a youthful male figure riding on a tawny horse, wearing fine clothing, and holding vessels containing wish-granting jewels and an elixir of longevity. He is believed to reside under a person’s right armpit. The bodhisattva Vajrapani appears above the five deities, and they are surrounded by various animals of the Himalayan mountains and Mongolian steppes including a tiger, a camel, a yak, a dog, a lion, a horse, a mule and a wolf.