Dayan Deerkh

  • Даян Дээрх / Dayan/Dayin Dērx
  • Dayan Degereki
  • Lha chen Ta yan te re ke
  • Thangka
  • 19th century
  • Pigment on cotton
  • Height: 30 cm / Width: 23 cm / Depth: not filled
  • Collection: Hans Leder, Inv. Nr.: 3582
  • Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig
  • © Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig/ ÖAW
The shamanic deity Dayan Deerkh (Mong. Dayan Degereki, Khal. Dayan/Dayin Dērx, Khal. Darkhad Xān bogd Dayan Dērx “King, Holy Dayan Deerkh”, Bur. Dayan Dērxe, Tib. Lha chen Ta yan te re ke) is represented in his most usual form printed on a piece of cotton (cf. also Heidelberg 033702). This type of representation is widespread throughout Mongolia. Dayan Deerkh is worshipped for the several roles of the deity: he is not only a spirit playing an important role in shamanic initiation, but also a fertility and protector spirit, a mountain deity and a warrior god. As shamanic spirit he was represented as a stone figure, but after being canonised by Buddhism as a Dharma-protector deity, he became the member of the Buddhist pantheon and is represented as a warrior god. In all of his images Dayan Deerkh is depicted as an equestrian warrior god. On his head he is endowed with his most distinctive attribute, the shamanic feather crown (Khal. Darkhad orgoi) around a helmet (Mong. duγulγ-a, Khal. dūlga) with a vajra-like ornament in the middle. A golden halo frames his crowned head. The deity’s face is depicted similarly to other warrior gods with moustache and beard. In his right he holds a [white] flag (Mong. čaγan darčuγ, Khal. cagān darcag, Skr. dhvaja); in his left there is a jug full of jewels (Mong. erdeni-yin bumba, Khal. erdnīn bumb, Skr. ratnakalaśa). A tiger skin bow-case (Mong. qorumsaγ-a, Khal. xoromsogo) is on his left and an arrow quiver (Mong. saγadaγ, Khal., sādag) on his right fastened to his belt. The arrow quiver cannot be seen, only the ends of three arrows sticking out. A sword is also attached to his belt on the left side. He wears a gown with a floating overcoat and the most typical Mongolian boots with turned up toes (Mong. egeteng γutalsun, Khal. ēten gutal) and thick sole. Around his neck he wears his typical mirror and in addition a rosary. The mirror (Mong., Khal. toli) is comprehended as a shamanic divination mirror. Dayan Deerkh’s galloping white horse is harnessed with a bridle (Mong. qaǰaγar, Khal. xajār) adorned with red tuft (Mong. molčoγ, Khal. molcog). The saddle (Mong. emegel, Khal. emēl), like the ceremonial saddles, is furnished with breast strap (Mong. kömöldürge, Khal. xömöldrög) and crupper (Mon. qudurγa, Khal. xudraga) and decorated with red tuft. The front saddle bow of the typical Mongolian saddle sticks out. The stirrup (Mong. dörüge, Khal. dörȫ) is similar to the one with a wide sole used by Mongolian horsemen. The saddle pad (Mong. toqum, Khal. toxom) has a square edge similarly to ones made of leather or felt and is richly decorated. The horse is represented on a platform with lotus petals. The deity is surrounded with white clouds and rides in front of a mountainous landscape (resembling his cultic place in Khöwsgöl province in Mongolia, a cave surrounded with mountains). The Sun and the Moon also appear in the composition. Both side figures are representations of two deities of the Tibeto-Mongolian pantheon, though they are comprehended in the shamanic textual tradition as the son and daughter of Dayan Deerkh. In the right corner Sarasvatī (Mong. Iraγu egesigtü, Khal. Yarū egšigt), the goddess of knowledge and music with her attributes (lute and cymbals) is depicted, in the left corner there is a deity in the shape of an old man, holding a (divination ?) arrow in his right and a bow in his left hand. A small running dog is hidden in the picture’s background (under Dayan Deerkh’s right arm). The present representation corresponds to the description in the textual tradition dedicated to Dayan Deerkh. (Birtalan Ágnes)
© Ágnes Birtalan
Dayan Deerkh
/ Mongolia / 19th century / Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig / © Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig/ ÖAW