Twelve Goddesses
CA. 18th century
Distemper on cloth
76 x 54.5 cm (30 x 21 ¾ in)

Winter Antiques Show, New York, 21-30 January 2011

'Himalayan Masterpieces', Beijing, 28 July - 20 August, 2010

‘Rituels tibétains' Musée Guimet, Paris, (5 November 2002 - 24 February 2003)


Natalie Bazin, Amy Heller, and Françoise Pommaret, Rituels tibétains: Visions secrètes du V Dalai Lama, Réunion des musées nationaux, (Paris 2002), no. 58, p. 116

J. Watt, Himalayan Art Resources (, no. 58537

Tan ma chu nyi, the Twelve Tanma Chunyi goddesses of Tibet, believed to have been subjugated by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Mention of the goddesses can be found in the 14th century Padma Kathang (sheldragma) biography text of Padmasambhava discovered by the Terton Orgyan Lingpa.

The black ground painting is divided into twelve squares with three horizontal squares and four squares vertical. The first vertical row of four squares on the viewer's left side are the Four Dumo (mara) Goddesses. The middle vertical row has the Four Nujin (yaksha) Goddesses. On the right side are the four vertical rows with the four Menmo (medicine) Goddesses.

There are slight variations in the Tibetan inscriptions especially with spellings and order of the names. The other painting, mural and block print comparables also have accompanying inscriptions. The numerous ritual texts all contain slight variations on the names. Although originally of Nyingma origin, the majority of paintings belong to the Gelug tradition and the popularisation of the cult of protector deities by the 5th Dalai Lama Lobzang Gyatso (1617-1682).

Twelve Goddesses

The Four Dumo (Mara):

- Dagnyi Chenmo Dorje Kundragma (lion mount)

- Palden Hari Dorje Yema Kyong (mule, kyang?)

- Gang Kyi Yumchen Dorje Kuntu Zang (lion)

- Drogchen Kor Dul Dorje Geg Kyi Tso (camel)

The Four Nujin (Yaksha):

- Gangkar Shame Dorje Yubunma (kyang, deer?)

- Khar Kyung Tsun Dorje Pal Gyi Yum (kyung)

- Serchen Khading Dorje Lumo Gyal (horse)

- Mari Rabjam Dorje Dragmo Gyal (wolf, bear?)

The Four Menmo:

- Kong Tsun Demo Dorje Bod Kham Kyong (tiger)

- Mentsun Ugcho Dorje Yarmo Sil (deer, kyang?)

- Tsanla Loro Dorje Menchigma (buffalo)

- Yuyi Drilbu Dorje Zulema (nine-headed tortoise, otter?)