Magzar Gyalmo Surrounded by Deities
MediumMineral pigments on sized cloth, scroll
DimensionsImage : 14 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. (36.83 x 29.85 cm)
Work : 29 1/2 x 21 1/2 in. (74.93 x 54.61 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
The name Magzor Gyalmo means “The Queen Who Turns Back Armies.” She is the only female among the major Vajrayana dharmapala deities. As here, Magzor Gyalmo is typically portrayed riding on a mule through a river of blood. She has blue or black skin with red or orange hair that sweeps up above her head like a flame. Her raised right hand holds a vajra-tipped mace while her left hand holds a skull cup brimming with blood. She wears a crown made of human skulls, jewelry made of human bones, and a cape made of human skin. In her teeth she holds a small, white human corpse. She is flanked by her two attendants, Makaramukha on the left and Simhamukha on the right. Resting on the ground directly below her mule are several piles of symbolic jewels and three skulls filled with offerings of human body parts. Devotional rituals for Magzor Gyalmo were traditionally performed in Mongolian Gelug temples on the first day of the lunar year to provide protection and bring prosperity in the coming year. This painting may have been used in such rituals since it also includes images of the wealth deities White Mahakala and Vaishravana, as well as images of the founder of the Gelug order, Tsongkhapa, and his two main disciples, Gyaltsab Je and Khedrup Je.