Search Archive


Sertrap, literally “possessor of a golden cuirass,” is the terrific form of the Dharma protector Tsangpa Drakpo, Fierce Brahma, who is peaceful and white, and wears a conch in his hair. 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 jewel topped club in his right hand and in his left is a lasso to snare and tie up the evil opponents of Buddhism. He has a tough, bearded face of dark red color, against which his three rolling and gleaming white eyes and “sharp and glacial” white teeth stand out clearly. 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 the 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, jeweled girdle hangs a leopard-skin bow case and a sheathed sword. He is shown with his fortress-palace compound, whose three concentric walls of red, yellow, and white describe an asymmetrical octagon. The figures which are shown in each of the spaces are emanations of Sertrap’s body, speech, mind, excellence, and miraculous activities. In the upper reaches of the painting, surrounded by clouds and trees against the dark blue sky, are the three golden roofs of the three-storied palace of Sertrap. His dominating figure occupies the first floor. On the roof of the second level of the central axis is a figure of Amitayus, flanked on the left by a lama (named as Loden Sherap by inscription), and on the right by a red Hayagriva. The roof of the third level of the palace is occupied by a figure of Amitabha. Outside, on the left, are two lamas of the Avalokiteshvara (compassion) lineage, with White Tara below, and on the right two lamas of the Manjushri (wisdom) lineage, with Green Tara below.
The painting is handsome and dramatic. It is possibly the finest and richest painting yet known of this particular deity. 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. The Tibetan rendering is, however, a revitalization of T’ang Dynasty China and Central Asia from the 7th Century, which offers yet another magnificent major style development-one that stresses the beauty of colorful pattern with a wild and vigorous spirit.

Dimensions: 56 1/2" x 35 1/2"

Related Artifacts