Metal and Stone Vestiges
Religion, Magic and Protection in the Art of Ancient Tibet
This one-meter tall pictograph portrays in much anatomical detail Tibet’s most popular sacred bird, the khyung. Dating to the Buddhist period (circa 1000-1300?), this figure was painted over a rocky rib conceived of as having the form of a khyung. This highlighting in red ochre of a self-formed khyung in stone was accomplished in order to subdue the local water spirits known as the lu. The pictograph has been subjected to considerable wear and damage. While the head has been destroyed, the wings and two arms grasping a serpent (representing the lu) are largely intact. The matching Vajrapani pictograph and mantra (see image 14a) below the khyung positively identify it as a Buddhist composition.
all text & images © John Vincent Bellezza