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Lot 31


Estimated Value:

2.800 € - 3.800 €


11.655 € incl. Premium and VAT


Bhutan, late 18th c.
67 x 45 (120 x 77) cm R.
Guru Drag dmar is a wrathful emanation of Padmasambhava, who wears the red color of the Padma family, has a wrathful expression, and holds as attributes in his right hand the golden vajra, and in his left hand a scorpion. The clothing of the deity Guru Drag dmar includes elephant skin and the human skin he wears over his naked torso. The rest of his clothing is a green silk sash that hangs loosely from his shoulders. The skins mark him as a tantric yidam and identify him as a teacher of the Vajrayana. From his torso hangs a green snake, and a garland of entrails with freshly severed human heads. The snake and the bleeding garland indicate the overcoming of the three poisons: ignorance (intestines), passion (blood, the freshly cut off human heads), and hatred (snake). In addition, he wears crossed chain strings of human bone beads, which indicate the transience, and sixfold golden jewelry, symbol of his virtues (paramita). The golden diamond scepter (vajra) in his right hand means "indestructible", a power that surpasses everything else. It is the power of vajra-like awareness, destroying all illusion, all delusion. The nine-headed scorpion in his left hand needs an explanation of the Tibetan word sDig pa: "It means both "scorpion" and "karmic guilt", "moral offense". In a figurative sense, sDig pa implies: Any unwholesome deed that is committed subsequently causes suffering that torments the body, speech and mind. "Karmic guilt" in Buddhism, then, is nothing more than wrongdoing, the effect of which, like a poisonous scorpion sting, sooner or later becomes torment. The scorpion, poisonous in itself, becomes a carrier of wrathful Buddha activity through the blessing of all Buddhas, which does not lead to suffering but to salvation. The means in itself remains, only the effect is reversed, due to the changed cause: instead of hatred, compassion now reigns. In this respect also raging deities do not have a destructive effect, but a consciousness-promoting, liberating effect. Despite their wrathful appearance, for the taming of especially difficult to teach living beings, they are essentially only activated compassion from the emptiness of samadhi. The dagger-shaped abdomen of the guru, with its three-edged blade, represents the destruction of the three poisons of the mind: avarice, hatred and ignorance. It emerges from the mouth of a sea monster, from whose mouth two snakes crawl out. The tip of the dagger is stuck in a triangular iron hearth, as used in the fire sacrifice (Homa), the edge of which is framed by bleached skulls, indicating transformation. In the ashes of the hearth lies curved a dead body, representing the karmic energy to be destroyed. This thanga is in the tradition of the Nying ma school in Tibet, and the Drug pa in Bhutan, various representatives of the latter are depicted in the painting. At the top Buddha Amitabha, the "Bodhisattva of Compassion"- Avalokiteshvara and the Great Guru Padmasambhava are depicted. The powerful action is fueled by the immense fire energy that surrounds Guru drag dmar, and takes place against a wildly rugged landscape with roaring streams. Tempera and gold on cotton fabric, original silk satin border, with bija. Framed under glass.
South German private collection, purchased on 6.3.1975 at Schoettle Ostasiatica, Stuttgart, Germany
Publ. Tibetica, 29, 1975. no. 8652 with illustration
Published and exhibited: Kunstamt Berlin Tempelhof, catalog by Helmut Uhlig, 27.4. - 19.6.1976, p. 96/ 98
Minor wear and small restorations, very minro damages due to age