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Paintings > Thangka > Sertrap
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Black-ground Thangka Tibetan Thangka Painting

1.6 ft x 2.5 ft
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Viewed 2704 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
Sertrap, literally "possessor of a golden cuirass," is the terrific form of the Dharma protector Tsangpa Drakpo (Fierce Brahma), who is peaceful and white. Sertrap is said to have been born from a ray of light emitted from Brahma's heart.Sertrap was apparently a favorite of the Kadam order.

Sertrap is described as being like a great goblin king, wild and red in appearance. He looms here as a giant figure riding a brown horse amid a swirling mass of orange-red flames. He flourishes a club topped with jewels in his right hand, and in his left is a lasso with which he snares and ties up the evil opponents of Buddhism. He has a tough, dark red face, against which his three rolling and gleaming white eyes and "sharp and glacial" white teeth stand out clearly. He has small coils of flames for his beard. Atop his head is a golden helmet rimmed with the five-skull crown typical of fierce deities. Silken flags and a small canopy ornament with two peacock feathers stick out from top of his helmet. His broad, massive body is distinguished by the cuirass of leather that is his emblem, portrayed here in gold. Beneath this he wears garments of patterned turquoise silks that, like those adorning the horse, flutter and twist energetically. From his wide girdle hangs a leopard-skin bow case and a sheathed sword.

The painting is handsome and dramatic. The style is descended from the powerful paintings dominated by green and orange coloring of the late 17th century, combined with some of the pale color effects and other details known especially from Eastern Tibetan painting. This kind of formidable, generallike figure with its huge muscular body has its roots in the style of guardian protectors developed in Tang dynasty China and Central Asia from the 7th century. This rendering is, however, a revitalization of this form and offers yet another magnificent stylistic presentation-one that stresses the beauty of colorful pattern with a wild and vigorous spirit.

This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.


Rhie, Marylin M. & Thurman, Robert A.F. Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

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