Manuscript of the Five Protections (Pancharaksha)

Manuscript of the Five Protections (Pancharaksha)


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Gum tempera, ink, and gold on palm leaf; 14 illustrated folios and 71 text pages

Overall: 5.7 x 54.6 cm (2 1/4 x 21 1/2 in.)

On Loan from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 16.2014

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Seeing the painting of each goddess is as efficacious as reading the text.


This manuscript of the Five Protections, containing five extended dharanis or "spells" of protection, was painted in northeastern India during the reign of Ramapala (r. 1078/79 - 1131), king of the Pala dynasty. According to information in the colophon, the work was completed on August 2, 1117. This text remains especially popular in Nepal. Portable palm-leaf manuscripts such as this were main transmittors of tantric Buddhism from India to the Himalayas especially during the 12th to 13th century.

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