Mask of the Protector Palden Lhamo

ethnic china

Mask of the Protector Palden Lhamo

Palden Lhamo is one of the main protector deities of Tibetan Buddhism. Among her many roles, she is the special protector of the city of Lhasa, the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism, and the Dalai Lamas of Tibet. She was invited to Tibet around the eleventh century from India.

Legend has it that she was once married to an evil king in Sri Lanka. She asked her husband to stop killing human beings, and as he continued fighting and killing she vowed to kill her only son if he did not promise not to lead the people of Lanka to greater violence and cannibalism.

The flayed skin of her son used as the saddle blanket on her mule shows that he did not agree to her request. She rides across a sea of blood. Around her waist hangs a belt with severed heads. She holds a skull cup in her left hand. These images of violence are understood by initiates as sacred symbols of inner transformation in a compassionate religious culture that shuns every form of action, thought or word that might be harmful to other living beings.

In the mask, her terrifying character is indicated by her mouth a little open showing aggressive teeth, her bulging eyes, wide eyebrows, the third eye that allows her to see beyond appearances, and the diadem of skulls.

To cite this post: Ceinos-Arcones, Pedro, "Mask of the Protector Palden Lhamo," in Ethnic China, 29 enero 2021, https://ethnic-china.com/mask-of-the-protector-palden-lhamo/.
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