Tibet, Vajrapani – Chanda (5)

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (with red paint), private collection, photo by Waddingtons https://www.waddingtons.ca/auction/asian-art-auction-jun-14-2018/gallery/lot/495/.

It is most unusual for wrathful Vajrapani to be shown in an ithyphallic form, yet the vajra sceptre in his right hand and the twisted snakes below his feet identify him. His left hand would have held a lasso wound around his raised forefinger. He wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth and is adorned with snakes, a small tiara and earplugs.

13th century, Western Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with cold gold and pigments, at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney (Australia)https://collection.maas.museum/object/349697 .

He sometimes holds his left arm almost at a right angle with the forefinger pointing sideways. We saw another two Tibetan sculptures with the same hairstyle and accessories, also dated 13th century.

Unlabelled, (Tibet or Nepal?, copper alloy?), Vajrapani, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/11112.

Undated (circa 14th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, (brass with pigments), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/11022 .

This masterpiece depicts him with a tall crown secured with rods such as we have seen on many wisdom buddhas from Tibet dated 14th century (see below for example).

His eyes, fingernails, armbands and part of his celestial scarf (decorated with a stippled lotus pattern) are inlaid with copper, some of his accessories are decorated with a chased geometrical design, his third eye and the foliate ornament above the armbands are inlaid with coral.

17th century (or earlier?), Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled ‘Jambhala’), bronze, private collection, photo by Nye and Company http://nyeandcompany.com/auctions/125/bronze-figure-of-jambhala-tibet-circa-17th-c-2999542.html.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/10374.

The large half-vajra finial on his head is a recurrent feature on 15th and 16th century Tibetan works .

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi https://www.himalayanart.org/items/71853.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled ‘tantric divinity’, gilt bronze), photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de/catalogues/epaper-104-China-2/index.html#92



Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani with bell (2)

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de/sales/100/100A_Addendum.pdf.

Metal sculptures of wrathful Vajrapani with a bell (missing here) in his left hand are relatively few. He has three eyes, bared fangs, wears a tiger skin loin cloth, a small tiara instead of a skull crown, eight snake ornaments, including one used as a sacred thread. The above wears it on one side of his body rather than from one shoulder to the opposite hip as is customary. There is an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi (India), photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/71875.

He may stand on one victim…

Undated, Tibet?, Vajrapani, metal, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/10667.

Unlabelled (circa 15th century), Tibet, gilt copper alloy and stones), Vajrapani, private collection, photo on HAR https://www.himalayanart.org/items/32321.

Undated (circa 16th century), Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal with cold gold, pigments and stones, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo on HAR https://www.himalayanart.org/items/71869.

or two, and hold the bell downwards or upside down. Unlike most wrathful deities he doesn’t wear a garland of severed heads.

Unlabelled (circa 12th century?, Tibet), Vajrapani, (copper alloy with cold gold and pigments), private collection, photo on HAR https://www.himalayanart.org/items/32327.

On occasions he has a garuda in his headdress.


Tibet, Jambhala – various forms (3)

17th-18th century, Tibet, Green Jambhala, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Auctionata U.S. on https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/auctionata/catalogue-id-nataus10029/lot-066f4e48-5f51-4ede-97c8-a5c3016690a1

Not normally seen in sculpture, Green Jambhala usually sits in embrace with is consort. He may hold a triple gem specific to him, a lemon, like Yellow Jambhala, or a skull cup like Black Jambhala. The above is seated at royal ease, his right foot resting on a conch shell attached to the base. So far, the only solitary peaceful-looking seated Jambhala that we have seen with a skull cup and a mongoose is labelled ‘Black Jambhala’ on Himalayan Art Resources (see link for reminder: https://www.himalayanart.org/items/86324).

15th century, Tibet, Jambhala, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s http://www.sothebys.com/ru/auctions/ecatalogue/2018/important-chinese-art-l18212/lot.69.html.

This rare work depicts White Jambhala seated on a dragon and accompanied by three attendants (on paintings he is shown with four). He has a peaceful face with three eyes and holds a trident in his right hand and possibly a folded banner in the other. The female figure on the left holds an elephant hook and a bowl.

15th century, Eastern Tibet, White Jambhala, ivory, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA)https://www.artic.edu/artworks/144399/jambhala-the-god-of-wealth-seated-on-a-dragon .

Another rare sculpture of him, with a mongoose in his left hand, a ritual staff against his left arm and a broken implement, probably a sword, in his right hand. The dragon holds jewels between its claws. Below him are four dakinis, one holds flaming jewels and a vase, another holds a trident and a skull cup.

17th century, Tibet, White Jambhala, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Artkhade on https://www.artkhade.com/en/object/040481/fzwBPL/a-figure-of-white-jambhala-tibet

He may also hold a club adorned with jewels in his left hand.

17th century, Tibet (labelled ‘China’ on Himalayan Art Resources, item 32764), White Jambhala, gilt bronze with traces of polychromy, private collection, photo on http://www.gazette-drouot.com/static/magazine_ventes_aux_encheres/top_des_encheres/sculpture_2012.html.

Chinese-style works usually give him a wrathful countenance. The position of his hands suggests that he held a stick in his right hand and a mongoose in the other.

18th century, Tibet, Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), silver, at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney (Australia)  https://collection.maas.museum/object/349723.

18th century, Tibet (or Sino-Tibetan?), Jambhala, (parcel-)gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Armand Antiques on https://www.armandantiques.com/asian-art-and-antiques/.


Tibet, Black Jambhala (8)

14th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala, metal (brass), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resource https://www.himalayanart.org/items/23062.

A rare Pala-style image of Black Jambhala standing on a male victim, his eyes inlaid with copper, his naked body adorned with snakes and a celestial scarf with one end dropping and the other flowing upwards. He holds a skull cup and a jewel-spitting mongoose, his victim, possibly Yellow Jambhala, holds jewels.

Undated, Tibet or Nepal?, Black Jambhala, stone, private collection, photo on HAR https://www.himalayanart.org/items/44358.

14th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala, stone, private collection, photo by St. George Gallery on https://www.trocadero.com/stores/stgeorgegallery/items/1390924/14th-Tibetan-Stone-Figure-JambhalaAlternatively he crushes elephant-headed Ganapati, who vomits jewels. Either victim is related to wealth.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-bronze-figure-of-jambhala-tibet-13th14th-5417089-details.aspx.

Labelled ’16th-17th century’, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo on https://veryimportantlot.com/en/lot/view/black-jambhala-77277.

An unusual image of Jambhala standing in a warrior-like pose but holding a citron in his right hand instead of a skull cup. He has Chinese-style facial hair and wears princely jewellery and crown, which also departs from the traditional iconography.

18th century, Tibet or Mongolia, Black Jambhala, bronze, private collection, Photo by Nagel, sale 103 China 2.

Instead of a celestial scarf, the above wears a long snake tied at the bottom and the only other accessory is a snake holding his flaming hair together.

18th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala (labelled Yamantaka), bronze (copper alloy) with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Pierre Bergé & Associés on http://www.pba-auctions.com/html/fiche.jsp?id=2798971

Jambhala is one of very few wrathful deities from the Tibetan buddhist pantheon  to have an ithyphallic form. The other two are the Vajrabhairava aspect of Yamantaka and Yama Dharmaraja.

Tibet, Yellow Jambhala (16)

Undated (circa 14th century?), Tibet, Jambhala, (brass), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/32711.

Tibet, Jambhala, (labelled ’18th century, Krishna’), bronze, private collection, photo by Nye and Company.

We saw similar Pala-style sculptures of Yellow Jambhala, including two at the British Museum in London, all dating from the 13th and 14th century. He sits at royal ease with his right foot on a vase of abundance and holds a citrus fruit in his right hand and a mongoose in the other. One of his accessories is a garland of vases.

(Circa 13th century?, Western Tibet), Jambhala, brass?, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland), photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/3314894.

(Circa 13th century?, Western Tibet), Jambhala, brass?, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland), photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/3314895.

Two different looks and yet both typical of the Western Tibetan style, Inspired by Pala art but with distinctive features such as the stippled lotus print, the incised accessories, the exaggerated side bows of the crown,  the lotus base, the singular design of the jewels disgorged by the mongoose, and an overall bonhomie.

Undated, Tibet, Jambhala, metal, private collection, photo on HAR https://www.himalayanart.org/items/10433.

18th century, Tibet, Jambhala, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Hardt Auctions .

Late Chinese-style works often give Yellow Jambhala an angry look.

18th century? (labelled circa 12th century), Tibet, Jambhala, iron, possibly from a meteorite, private collection, photo by Nagel, auction 104.

They also depict him with a silk shawl over his shoulders and a loosely draped lower garment.


Tibet, various female entities (2)

13th century, Tibet, Nairatmya, gilt copper (with cold gold and pigments), is or was at the Potala in Lhasa, Tibet, photo by Ulrich von Schroeder, published in an article by David Weldon on https://www.asianart.com/articles/weldon/18.html.

Nairtamya’s attributes are a skull cup, a flaying knife and a ritual staff. She may have a dakini appearance or be seated, have a peaceful face and wear princely jewellery as above. This one is seated with her legs locked, she wears a five-skull crown and her chignon is topped with a jewel.

Late 15th century, Tibet, Mustang, Nairatmya, copper alloy with silver, copper and turquoise inlay, at the Namgyal monastery, photo by Christian Luczanits on https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/22358/1/Luczanits_2016_Namgyal_Part1.pdf.

She usually sits at royal ease and has a half-vajra finial on her head.

11th century, Western Tibet, Karmavajri, silver with gilding, published by Christian Luczanits on https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/74210244.pdf.

Associated with Amoghasiddhi, Karmavajri belongs to the karma family, has a green body and sits in the northern direction on a mandala. The above is identified by the visvajra she holds in both hands.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, bodhisattva, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts http://www.aaoarts.com/asie/enchtibet/tibscu1.html.

This (female?) standing figure, possibly an attendant, holds a vase in both hands.

18th century, Tibet (or Tibeto-Chinese?), Vasudhara, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on https://www.kaupp.de/book_de/338_73/files/assets/basic-html/page155.html

A singular image of the goddess of wealth and harvest with three heads (she normally has one even when she has six hands as above), identified through her specific attribute, a sheaf of grain. She holds a book and a long-life vase in the remaining left hands, a rosary in her top right hand, an object supposed to be a raining jewel in the next one down. The lower  hand does the gesture of supreme generosity.


Tibet, various buddhas (4)

18th century, Tibet, eight medicine buddhas, silver, bronze, traces of cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de/catalogues/epaper-101-China-1/index.html#110

In this set of medicine buddhas, the central image is a silver statue of Shakyamuni rather than Bhaisajyaguru, who is behind him. According to Nagel, Bhaisajyaguru holds a tiny arura fruit in his right hand but the bowl in his left hand is now lost. The buddha next to him with both hands in the meditation gesture must be Ashokattamshri and on the other side, the buddha ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ may be Suvarnabhadra Vimala. The buddha on the far right calls Earth to witness with his right hand and the first one at the back (starting from the left) does the gesture of debate, neither of which are normally associated with Abhijinaraja or Nirghosharaja.

Suparakirtita Namashri does the fear-allaying gesture somewhat low down. Dharmakirti Sagaragosha is the one who has both hands palm out to dispel fear.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de/catalogues/epaper-100-China-2/index.html#40,

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper, photo by the Simon Norton Art Foundation.

Bhaisajyaguru may be depicted alone or with the other seven buddhas of medicine or in a set of 51 deities including Prajnaparamita and the yaksha generals.

13th century, Tibet, Dharmakirtisagara (or Shakyamuni?), copper alloy with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.49.html/2018/arts-dasie-pf1817.

A Tibetan masterpiece, with harmonious facial features, a raised urna at the centre of his unibrow, individually modelled hair curls, the hem of his robe inlaid with copper and decorated with a stippled and incised pattern. There are raised wheels on the soles of his feet, which suggests this is the historical buddha.

16th century, Tibet, Samantabhadra? (labelled ‘Shakyamuni in yab-yum’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste https://www.cambiaste.com/uk/auction-0345-2/a-gilt-bronze-buddha-sakyamuni-figure-in-yabyu.asp.

Although he is not normally depicted in sculpture, the iconography is that of buddha Samantabhadra seated in embrace with his consort, his hands overlapping to support Samantabhadri, who holds a skull cup and a flaying knife. They are on a throne decorated with flaming triple jewels (triratnas) and a double vajra sceptre (visvajra).

16th century, Tibet, Dipankara, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Hardt Auctions https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/auction-hardt/catalogue-id-hardt-1-10004/lot-3dc6ff88-fb88-4a3f-a7dc-a9f200b1a23e.

A rare Tibetan image of Dipankara depicted in the Nepalese fashion.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Nageshvara Raja, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20580/lot/271/.

This buddha and meditational deity sits with his legs locked and his hands at heart level with  the fingers knitted except for the forefingers, to express supreme enlightenment, his head covered with seven (sometimes 5) cobra snakes. 


Thanks to Bonhams we get a rare chance of seeing how the serpents look like long strands of hair covering his back.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Nageshvara Raja (labelled Nagarjuna), gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de/catalogues/epaper-103-China-2/index.html#70Made by a Tibetan artist for a Chinese patron, this sculpture depicts the same buddha, also known as Nagaraja. The Indian teacher Nagarjuna has 7 to 8 snakes on his head but his hands do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, buddha, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Marie Catherine Daffos for aaoarts http://www.aaoarts.com/asie/enchtibet/tibscu1.html .