Magzor Gyalmo, the Queen Who Repels Armies

Shri Devi as “the Queen who Repels Armies,” or Magzor Gyalmo in Tibetan, is a wrathful protector deity popular in Tibetan Buddhist traditions. She rides a mule with a bridle of snakes and holds a club in the right hand and skull cup in the left. Above her head is a canopy of peacock feathers. She is adorned with the garland of severed heads which in this painting are all individuated with different expressions.

The Glorious Goddess, the Queen Who Repels Armies, is understood as a class of female protector deities that includes many forms and many different variations on the early origin myth. Some claim that there are twenty-one attested to in popular prayer; others say that some of these forms are indigenous to the Himalayas and Tibet. In ancient Tibetan texts, possibly of Indian origin, the Glorious Goddess has a list of one hundred names. Portrayed with four arms, she is considered the principal and original form of the goddess, similar to the Hindu goddess Kali.

The Queen Who Repels Armies, appearing with just two arms, is another form in this class. Based on her specific origin myth, she is said to be the fearsome manifestation of the Hindu goddess Sarasvati, popular in Hinduism and Buddhism, and the special protector of the Dalai Lamas. In the Bon religion the Queen of the World is similar to the Buddhist Glorious Goddess and the Hindu Kali in both appearance and function.

Source: Rubin Museum of Art.