Date: late 16th century
Medium: Distemper on cloth
Dimensions: 67 × 44 1/8 in. (170.2 × 112 cm)
Framed: 77 3/8 × 55 5/8 × 7/8 in. (196.5 × 141.3 × 2.2 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Frances Gould-Naftal and Marvin Naftal, 1983
Accession Number: 1983.510.1
Palden Lhamo is the principal protectress of Tibet and the only female of the Eight Guardians of the dharma. This black-ground (Tibetan: nag thang) painting was installed in the chapel (gonkhang) dedicated to the wrathful protective deities (dharmapalas), a room reserved for tantric initiation rites within a Tibetan monastery. The exceptional scale and complexity of the composition relate the painting to the offering-scene murals known as “sets of ornaments” (Tibetan: rgyan tshogs) that adorn the interiors of shrines dedicated to the dharmapalas. At center, the wrathful four-armed goddess Palden Lhamo, emaciated and fearful, is shown riding her mule.