detail of Thangka of Rang-Rig Togden showing the melong in his beard


a mirror, symbol of Dzogchen long-dé

The mélong or Yeshé Mélong (ye shes me long) is a symbol, within the Aro gTér, of Dzogchen long-dé. The use of the mirror as an important symbol dates back to Jomo Chhi’mèd Pema who was a Dzogchen long-dé master. In this thangka, Rang-rig Togden is shown with a mélong braided into his beard – as a continual reminder of his ‘vows of vision’. Rang-rig Togden received Jomo Chhi’mèd Pema’s lineage of Dzogchen long-dé from his Root Lama and sang-yum, Jomo Pema ’ö-Zér, and spent the final twenty years of his life engaged in the practices of Dzogchen long-dé.

The mélong was given to Jomo Pema ’ö-Zér by Jomo Chhi’mèd Pema, and she in turn gave it to Rang-rig Togden. On Rang-rig Togden’s death it passed to Khyungchen Aro Lingma and from her to Aro Yeshé. The mélong was made of a mixture of gold, silver, copper, tin and iron – representing the five elements: gold – earth, tin – water, copper – fire, silver – air, and iron – space. This is the same set of metals used for bells and ting’shar – but the proportions of metal differ.