The Five Kings: Pehar (Tsam figure)

  • Таван ха(а)н / Tawan xa(a)n
  • Tabun qaγan
  • rGyal po sku lnga
  • Tsam figure
  • begin 20th century
  • Wood
  • Height: not filled / Width: not filled / Depth: not filled
  • Collection: Hans Leder, Inv. Nr.: 74716
  • Weltmuseum Wien
  • © KHM mit MVK und ÖTM
Several small wooden figures depicting expressively characters of the Tsam dance ceremony (T. ´cham), one of the most important Buddhist festivities, form an extraordinary group within the Leder collections. Twelve figures are housed in the Weltmuseum Wien (the former Museum für Völkerkunde Wien). Probably this figure concerns the worldly protector deity Pehar, one of the Five Kings. Pehar has five forms representing body, speech, mind, quality and activity – each with a different appearance. The most commonly depicted is the Activity Pehar with three faces, white and riding a lion. King Pehar has a non-Tibetan, pre-Buddhist origin, and according to the legend was converted in the 9th century by Guru Rinpoche and made to one of the most important protectors of Tibetan Buddhism. In some Tsam dances the Five Kings appear without masks (Nebesky-Wojkovitz 1976: 79). Pehar’s body is white and he wears a broad-brimmed golden hat; in his hands he holds sword and staff. Pehar is not a character in the Khüree-Tsam. (cf. Lang 2013: 73-74)
© M.-K. Lang
The Five Kings: Pehar (Tsam figure)
/ Mongolia / begin 20th century / Weltmuseum Wien / © KHM mit MVK und ÖTM