Prof. Dr. Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt, born in 1955 in Göttingen, Germany, is a scholar of Religious Studies, History, Indology
and Tibetology. Having studied in Erlangen and Bonn and holding a Ph.D. in Comparative Religion from Bonn University, and a
Habilitation from Marburg University, she now teaches in the department for the Study of Religions in the Institute for Comparative
Cultural Studies in Marburg University, Germany.
Former publications include a monograph on goddesses and female symbolism in Indo-Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, a critical edition
of the lHan kar ma catalogue of early Tibetan translations of Indian Buddhist texts, a catalogue of a Tibet exhibition in Marburg,
two anthologies and more than hundred research articles, contributions to lexicons and other small scriptures. Adelheid HerrmannPfandt
has spent some years of research in India and Nepal, specializing in Tibetan Buddhism, women in Buddhism and Hinduism,
Hindu and Buddhist religious iconography and, more recently, religion in Hindi cinema. A current research project focusses on
religion and violence, especially human sacrifi ce, and includes non-Asian cultures as well.
The present book is the fruit of an almost life-long occupation with the religious history and iconography of Indian and Tibetan
The rÑiṅ ma pas are the only minority school of Tibetan Buddhism whose iconography differs markedly from the mainstream
iconography re-presented by the gSar ma pa or new schools. Scholarly works on rÑiṅ ma iconography are quite rare and have so far
never covered the whole of the rÑiṅ ma pantheon.
This book has been written as an attempt to fi ll this gap, trying to supply introductory as well as comprehensive information, meant
for people interested in Tibetan Buddhism, whether lay persons, practitioners, or scholars. Apart from individual descriptions of
the most important deities, the emphasis of this study has been laid on the pantheon as a whole, because its structure is crucial for
understanding the differences between rÑiṅ ma pa and mainstream iconography.
The book includes more than 2000 photographs most of which were taken by the author herself in various monasteries and nunneries
of the rÑiṅ ma school in India and Nepal and by Elke Hessel in Tibet. Over hundred images provided from other sources have been
added. As far as possible, the iconography of the deities and maṇḍalas has been verifi ed through written sources, among them the
large rÑiṅ ma text collections of the Rin chen gter mdzod and the rÑiṅ ma rgyud ’bum.
In seven chapters on the iconography of Buddhas, the systems of peaceful and wrathful deities, Padmasambhava, the eight most
important cycles of meditation deities (bKa’ brgyad), the protective deities and the teachers, the book describes, on the one hand, the
peculiarities of the rÑiṅ ma school, but also, on the other hand, the parts of its iconography it shares with the other schools.
Iconography of the rÑiṅ ma
School of Tibetan Buddhism
The Copper-coloured Palace
The Dalai Lama
“Little scholarly attention has been paid until now to what is unique about the deities of the Nyingma pantheon and
how they differ from the deities of the newer schools. I appreciate the effort the author has put into researching this
and compiling what she has discovered in this book entitled, ‘The Copper-coloured Palace’. I am sure practitioners and
students of the Nyingma tradition, as well as readers who take an interest in Tibetan religious art will welcome the work.
I congratulate Dr. Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt for opening up this previously little explored area of Tibet’s rich religious
His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama of Tibet, Dharamsala, India
“In this richly illustrated work Dr. Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt has done a great service to the scholarship of Tibetan
iconography by providing a much needed analysis of the vast and understudied rÑin ma pa pantheon. It is the result of
many years of research and careful scholarship that focuses on frescoes and fi xed temple statues, which provide fi rm
confi rmation of their provenance, as well as deep textual studies and other iconographic images. It is a monumental
Dr. Serinity Young, Professor, Queens College, New York, U.S.A.
“This profoundly signifi cant in-depth work is not only a pioneering and most thorough encyclopedia of Tibet‘s earliest
existing Buddhist school tradition, but also a so far unseen and an indispensable iconographic reference book on esoteric
Buddhism for advanced studies. It documents with a great wealth of never published icons in Nyingma monasteries
and with most detailed scholarly descriptions the surprisingly extensive and still very much alive tantric pantheon
as a veritable sourcebook of the Tibetan cultural heritage. Written with much wisdom and compassion, the “Coppercoloured
Palace” explores and provides the fascinating image worlds of a real Tibetan Buddhist treasure house. A major
achievement in Tibetan Studies!”
Dr. Michael Henss, author of The Cultural Monuments of Tibet, Zurich, Switzerland
“The rÑiṅ ma school of Tibetan Buddhism is one of the least understood, historically most enigmatic religious traditions
in the world. Among Tibetan schools it stands out with doctrinal and practical specialities partly going back to ancient
strata of Buddhist Tantric developments otherwise lost to us. Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt‘s encyclopedic work is a study
based on years of diligent research paired with thorough historical understanding and philological mastery. Far exceeding
the scientifi c gain of a comprehensive, systematic iconography, this book provides a map of historical interconnections,
which will prove indispensable for generations of future academic gTer stons to lift the religious treasures hosted by the
rÑiṅ ma tradition.”
Dr. Sven Bretfeld, Professor for South Asian Religious History,
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
“Agam Kala Prakashan (New Delhi) deserves my sincere appreciation for publishing Prof. Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt’s
overwhelming new book on the Iconography of the rÑiṅ ma School of Tibetan Buddhism. What is most fascinating
is the fact that within the enourmous wealth of (high quality coloured) illustrations there is not the slightest detail, e.
g., deities and their retinue, attributes, mudrās, colours, functions, which would not be explained in utmost detail in
this extraordinary book, based on thorough scrutinies of the sources. So the reader (and user) can be sure that Prof.
Herrmann-Pfandt’s work is (and will remain) a standard encyclopaedia of Tibetan Buddhism, especially in its pristine
form of the rÑiṅ ma School.”
Dr. Rudolf Kaschewsky, University of Bonn, Germany
co-author (with Geshe Pema Tsering) of sDe-dpon sum-cu: Ritual and
Iconography of the “Thirty Protector Deities of the World”, 1998 (in German)