“…Nubchen replied, ‘Well, I have this slight power of reciting mantra,’ whereupon he displayed a threatening mudra in space and nine scorpions appeared, stacked one above the other and each the size of a yak.” [Source]
Today may or may not be the third day of the festival, see yesterday: “Spring hopes eternal”. The scorpion pastry is not eaten, it is fried first and kept by the stove until at least the 15th day of the new year, which I suppose would be the full moon, since the holiday begins on a new moon.
The scorpion removes obstacles for the coming year. It may also be kept in the traditional Tibetan kitchen year round as a chalk or soot drawing.
Here are a couple of scorpion designs taken from old Tibetan iron scorpions, just for inspiration.
The search term has now been discovered as “step by step khapse designs”.
Here is another one from YouTube. The cross-hatching is made with a knife. The eyes look like they are made with the heads of wooden kitchen matches. The tail is also held up by a piece of kitchen match.
The video also shows half a dozen ways to braid designs.
This reminds me of the chemistry professor who used to tell us “hot things don’t look hot” as we removed our crucibles from the lab oven, trying to discover Avogadro’s number, or moles, or whatever it was.
Here is a shop that makes pastry for Tibetans in India, the daughter is advertising her parents’ shop. The scorpion, or “ranya”, has a faint cross-hatch pattern across its body.
So how about some coloring?
On the left is Vajra Mamo Tsogyel Tröllö. Tsogyel Tröllö is Yeshé Tsogyel manifesting as the female Dorje Tröllö, one of the eight manifestations of Yeshé Tsogyel. “From each phurba (ceremonial triple dagger), black inferno scorpions fracture forth to exterminate the four devils of dualism.” (Full description here.)
On the right is Dorje Tröllö in his primary wisdom appearance. There are nine forms of Dorje Tröllö including Tsogyel Tröllö. Dorje Tröllö rides an upward leaping tigress which is a manifestation of the powerful spiritual consort Tashi Chhi’drèn. The tigress has a wisdom eye on her forehead indicating Buddhahood. This manifestation of Dorje Tröllö “carries four phurbas—two in his waist sash and one in each hand—which destroy the four philosophical extremes of monism, dualism, nihilism, and eternalism.” (Description.) And once again, there are plenty of scorpions to go around.
“Each of the scorpions’ legs contain five segments, representing the five distorted tendencies and their corresponding wisdom qualities. The scorpions’ tails are made up of nine segments, representing the nine yanas or vehicles; this displays the availability of all the vehicles from Sutra through outer and inner Tantra as methods of transformation. Each scorpion displays a wisdom eye.”
“Ngak’chang Rinpoche says of the scorpion:
The wrathful symbolism of Vajrayana is often misunderstood in the West because of our cultural predisposition to polarise ‘good’ and ‘evil’. The polarity of ‘good and evil’ does not exist in Buddhism – there is only the ‘good’ of the enlightened state, and the distortion of that ‘good’. This means that no matter how negative a situation or person may have become through dualistic obsession—that situation or person can be transformed. The power of transformation is thus depicted in Vajrayana through the scorpion. The statement being made here is that: ‘If the scorpion can be transformed then anyone, and anything can be transformed.’ Everyone and everything is nothing other than the energy of the non-dual state – and therefore the power of every facet of existence can be harnessed through pure vision as a means of attainment and compassionate activity.”
So there you have it.