Golden Visions of Densatil: a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery

February 19 - May 18, 2014
Figure of the Goddess Lhamo
Densatil Buddhist Monastery, Central Tibet
15th Century
Gilt copper alloy with inlaid semi-precious stones
Ester R. Portnow Collection of Asian Art; a gift of the Nathan Rubin – Ida Ladd Family Foundation in honor of Anthony G. Hirschel
© Michael C. Carlos Museum. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2007

Lhamo is one of the most terrifying figures of the Buddhist world. She was armed by the gods -- dice, determining the lives of humans; a lion; a hammer; a snake, which here is coiled upon her stomach, a sword, which here she holds in her right arm; and her vehicle, the mule, upon which she is seated. She wears a garland and crown of skulls to symoblize the illusions which she has destroyed. Legend has it that she killed her own sun because of her husband's refusal to convert to Buddhism, and fled northward through Tibet, Mongolia, and China, eventually to settle in Siberia.

It is important to remember here that Lhamo is terrifying because she is th e Great Protectress of the school of Mahayana Buddhism. Her actions are based on the deepest insight and her ferociousness transforms the world. A meditator would focus on Lhamo's ability to change delusional anger into an enlightened power to act.

A gift in honor of Anthony G. Hirschel, whose interest, encouragement, and support were vital to the development of the Ester R. Portnow Collection, the calleries in which it is housed, and its integration with University courses.