Ushnishasitatapattra, She Who Shelters with the White Parasol
Artist/maker unknown, Tibetan or Mongolian
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The border on this work is a trompe l'oeil-a painting of Chinese brocades rather than the silks themselves. At the center stands Ushnishasitatapattra, the embodiment of all the buddhas' qualities (shown by the five colors of her thousand heads). Reality-altering power emanates from her ushnisha, a cranial bump. Her many feet trample multicolored figures, suggesting her control over the realms of gods, demigods, men, and animals. The shaft of her white parasol disappears into a fire-rimmed pool that represents the natural disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes from which she protects her worshipers. At the apex of her heads, two Tibetan Buddhist monks soar in the clouds, signifying their freedom from earthly needs and desires.