Tibet, arhats and their patron

Rahula?, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 26 cm, R.577 Indian M. in Kolkdata

Circa 18th century, arhat, Tibet, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.577 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

This sculpture is from a (partial) set of sixteen arhats. The hair tied in a bun and the position of the hands, although unusual, suggest this could be Rahula, Shakyamuni’s son, who would have held a tiara before his heart (compare here).

Abheda, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 25 cm, lab. arhat, R.590 Indian M. in Kolkdata

Circa 18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.590 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

Abheda always holds a miniature stupa in both hands, at heart level.

Kalika?, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 25,5 cm, lab. arhat, R.576 Indian M. in Kolkdata

Circa 18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.576 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India)

We saw an arhat seated with both legs pendent and both hands before his heart labelled ‘Bakula’ at the Israel Museum , but Bakula holds a jewel-spitting mongoose in his lap or in one of his hands. This may be Angaja (see next image).

17th c., Tibet, arhat, gilt bronze, 16,5 cm, incense burner griffing handle, 21sep07, sale 1878 lot 142, Christie's

17th century, Tibet, arhat, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s

From a different set but with the same iconography. According to Christie’s, he has an incense burner with a griffin handle at his feet. This would explain the confusion with Bakula and his mongoose.  Both the Israel Museum figure and this one  have a staff tucked under their garment, against their left shoulder. The only arhat related to an incense burner is Angaja (compare with another one we saw on HAR ).

Pantaka, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 25,5 cm, lab. arhat, R.581 Indian M. in Kolkata

Circa 18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.576 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

In Tibet, Pantaka makes the gesture of debate with his right hand and has the left hand in the gesture of meditation to support a manuscript.

Vajriputra or Vanavasin?, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 24,5 cm, R.580 Indian M. in Kolkata

Circa 18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.576 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

The iconography for Vajriputra and Vanavasin is the same: the right hand makes a pointing gesture, the other holds a fly whisk (now lost).

Angaja?, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 26 cm, R.589 Indian M. in Kolkdata

Circa 18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.589 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

It is difficult to know who this is without the implements he had in his hands.

Pindola Bahradvaja?, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 25,5 cm, book missing, R.583 Indian M. in Kolkata

Circa 18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.583 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India)

Pindola Bharadvaja holds a bowl in his left hand and a (missing) manuscript in the other.

Hvashang?, 18th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 24,5 cm, lab. arhat, R.579A.G Indian M. in Kolkdata

Circa 18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold and pigment), item R.579 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

Always part of a set with the arhats (and Shakyamuni), Hvashang is not an arhat himself but their patron. This smiling pot-bellied character often holds a persimmon fruit in one hand, as above, and is usually surrounded with children.

Tibet, various arhats (4)

17th-18th c., Tibet, arhats, gilt bronze, 13,4 cm, 16sep08, sale 2024 lot 533 Christie's

17th-18th century, Tibet, group of thirteen arhats, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s

A possible identification, from the bottom row to the top one: the elder with a long-life vase and his hand before his chest is probably Nagasena, who would have held a khakkhara staff against his left shoulder. Next to him, with an incense burner against his left leg and a stick in his right hand, is Angaja, and the man on the right is Kanaka Vatsa, who holds a (missing) long jewelled lasso between his hands. Behind him is Vajriputra or Vanavasin, whose right hand makes a specific gesture, with the forefinger and the little finger raised (karana mudra). The figure next to him, seated with one hand on top of the other, is more difficult to identify as this gesture is unusual, but since he doesn’t hold an attribute, he could be Chudapantaka. In the third row, from left to right, Pantaka makes the gesture of debate with his right hand and holds a manuscript in the other; the man with a moustache and goatee at the centre is probably Dharmatala, a layman, attendant to the arhats, who has a different garment over his shoulders to fasten the books he carries strapped to his back; next to him, Vajriputra or Vanavasin. Behind them are Bakula, with a mongoose in his left hand, and Pindola Bharadvaja, who holds a manuscript in his right hand and a bowl in the other. In the top row, the arhat with both hands in the gesture of meditation may be Gopaka, who holds a manuscript in both hands, or Kanaka Bharadvaja, who holds a bowl in both hands. The character next to him appears to hold a ring in his right hand, if so it would be Kalika. There remains the man next to him, possibly Shri Bhadra, who often has a moustache and goatee, and a bowl before him, and whose left hand is always in the gesture of meditation. (Other arhats are Abheda, who holds a stupa before his heart, Ajita, whose head is always covered with his cloak, Rahula, who holds a tiara before his heart, Maudgalyayana and Shariputra (see below). 

Maudgalyayana or Shariputra, 17th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 32,8 cm, R.593 Indian M. in Kolkdata

Circa 17th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold), item R.593 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India)

 
Maudgalyayana or Shariputra, 17th c. cir., Tibet, cop.(+cold g.), 33,5 cm, R.592 Indian M. in Kolkdata

Circa 17th century, Tibet, arhat, copper (with cold gold), item R.592 at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India) as before.

Usually standing, Maudgalyayana and Shariputra hold a bowl in one hand and make a pointing gesture with the other or hold a mendicant’s staff.

Pala India, Manjuvajra (3)

12th c., Indian NE, Manjuvajra, bronze+sil. eyes+cord, 9 cm, 11jun08, auction 5521 lot 212, Paris Christie's,

12th century, Northeastern India, Manjuvajra, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes and cord (and traces of cold gold), private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 5521 lot 212, Paris.

12th c., India E., Manjuvajra, c.a.+sil.+cop., 8,9 cm, 20sep05, Asian A. lot 64, Sotheby's

12th century, Eastern India, Manjuvajra, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

12th c?, India NE?, Manjuvajra, (brass+sil.), 11483 HAR

Unlabelled (circa 12th century, Northeastern/Eastern India, brass with silver and copper inlay), Manjuvajra, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Described in the namasangiti tantra, this esoteric form of Manjushri has three heads and six arms. He is always seated with his legs locked, his main hands are crossed over his heart and clutch a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell. In the remaining right hands he holds a sword and an arrow, the left ones hold a bow and a blue lotus, usually topped with the Prajnaparamita sutra.

Pala India, Prajnaparamita

12th c., India NE, Prajnaparamita, bronze, Fichburg Art M. on wikimedia

12th century, Northeastern India, Prajnaparamita, bronze, photo on Wikimedia, at the Fitchburg Art Museum(USA). 

The mother of all buddhas in her one-head and four-arm form, her main hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, the upper ones holding a rosary and a manuscript, the prajnaparamita sutra, which she embodies.

12th c. cir. Indian E., Prajnaparamita, bronze, 7,5 cm, 21mar01, sale 9608 lot 18, Christie's

Circa 12th century, Eastern India, Prajnaparamita, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9608 lot 18.

11th cir?, India NE? Prajnaparamita, stone, pinterest

Unlabelled (circa 11th century? Northeastern or Eastern India probably, stone), Prajnaparamita, photo here.

In her two-arm form she often makes the same gesture with her hands, in which case she is flanked by blue lotuses, each topped with a book.

Pala India, Samvara (2)

11th c., India NE, Samvara, basalt?, 3 head 12 arms, garland skulls, vajrahumkara with vajra+ghanta, khatavanga, skull cup, lasso, Braham's head, banner, vajra, kartrika, hook, drum, whip?, 4-arm att., Indian M. Kolkata

11th century, Northeastern India, Samvara, stone, photo here at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India).

In his four-head (only three visible here) and twelve form, Samvara always holds the hide of an elephant stretched across his back in his upper hands, a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell in his main hands crossed over his heart. On this stele, the remaining left hands hold, from bottom to top, a ritual staff, Brahma’s head with four faces, a noose, a skull cup, which are the implements he has when in embrace with his consort. Those in the remaining right hands could be a vajra stick, a flaying knife, an axe, a drum. Above his head are two garland holders, known as vidyadharas, and a four-arm dakini another three stand below him, each carrying a ritual staff and brandishing a drum or a skull cup. More characters are carved below the lotus pedestal.

12th c., Indian NE, Samvara, bronze+pig., 9 cm, 11jun08, auction 5521 lot 213, Paris Christie's,

12th century, Northeast India, Samvara, bronze with cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s, auction 5521 lot 213.

The same form of Samvara, with a clearly visible elephant hide across his back, and the same attributes as before in his main hands. The remaining left hands hold Brahma’s head, a noose, a skull cup, a ritual staff, the remaining right hands hold a trident, a flaying knife, an axe, a drum, these last four implements he usually has when depicted alone.  

Pala India, Avalokiteshvara

12th c., India, Avalokiteshvara, stone, 8 cm, lab. Lok., 10jun17, sale 02 lot 24, Hardt

12th century, India, Lokeshvara, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt

The bodhisattva of compassion, seated with his right leg pendent, the foot resting on a large lotus blossom attached to the base. His right hand makes the gesture of supreme generosity, the other clutches the stem of an open lotus. There is a stupa on the other side of the stele.

12th c., India, Avalokiteshvara, stone, 15 cm, lab. Lok., 10jun17, sale 02 lot 30, Hardt

12th century, India, Lokeshvara, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt as above, lot 30.

On this example his left hand makes the fear-allaying gesture and we can see a lotus embossed in the palm. He is flanked by lotuses and another flower adorns the top of the arch. There is a kneeling devotee in one corner of his throne.

11th-12th c. cir., India, Khasarpana Lokeshvara, schist, 124,9 cm, AP 1970.13, Kimbell Art M

Circa 11th-12th century, India, Khasarpana Lokeshvara, schist, photo and details on Kimbell Art Museum (USA).

In Pala art Avalokiteshvara often has an elaborate coiffure made of braided matted hair, especially in his khasarpana Lokeshvara form. Usually seated with a leg pendent and his hands in the same position as on the two previous works, he has no antelope skin over his left shoulder but often has an effigy of Amitabha in his crown (as on the next picture). In this case, Amitabha would have been featured along the other four wisdom buddhas at the top of the arch, of which only Ratnasambha (identified by the jewel in his right hand) remains. Avalokiteshvara is flanked by Tara and Bhrikuti. Among the characters sculpted around the base are Hayagriva, with a yaksha appearance and a horse’s head on his own, and Sudhana Kumara, who holds a book and is associated with Manjushri.

10th c., India NE, Avalokiteshvara, basalt, 97,8 cm, Amibha in hair, lion throne+donors, B63S44 Asian A. M

10th century, India, probably Bihar, Avalokiteshvara, basalt, photo on Asian Art Museum

On this equally elaborate work there are three kneeling figures at the front of the plinth (a monk holding a lotus, a man and a woman, possibly the donors) and Suchimukha, a pot-bellied creature with a funnel-shaped nose that enables him to drink the nectar dropping from Avalokiteshvara’s hand. Also depicted on the previous sculpture but barely visible, this preta or hungry ghost is often seen on Pala art sculptures of Avalokiteshvara.

10th c., India NE, Avalokiteshvara, basalt, 97,8 cm, Amibha in hair, Vajrapani, B63S44 Asian A. M

The attendant next to Avalokiteshvara (possibly an archaic form of Vajrapani as a yaksha?) holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and leans on a staff.

11th c., India E, Avalokiteshvara, c.a., 9,5 cm, Amitabha behind crown, 23mar07, Indian, Him. & SE Asian WoA, lot 22, Sotheby's

11th century, Eastern India, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, 2007.

If we look closely we can see an effigy of Amitabha between the low tiara and the tall chignon of this brass figure.

8th-12th c., India, Avalokiteshvara, stone, 60 cm, Khasarpana, lab. simhanada, lot 45325257 on Catawiki

Pala period, India, (labelled ‘Simhanada’) Avalokiteshvara , stone, private collection,  photo on Catawiki

Although the position of his hands corresponds to some images of simhanada Lokeshvara, the above is not seated on a lion but on a double lotus seat atop a throne decorated with apsaras. He has an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and holds the stem of a large lotus in his right hand. Behind it, a blue lotus supports the effigy of a buddha with his hands in the preaching gesture.

 

Pala India, Jambhala (7)

12th c., India N(E), Jambhala+consort, stone, 10,5 cm, 16jan21, auction 11 lot lot 9, Hardt

12th century, North(eastern) India, Jambhala, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt

Various forms of Jambhala may be in embrace with Vasudhara: Yellow Jambhala, usually in his three-head and six hand form; Green Jambhala, who always has one head and two arms and normally holds a mongoose against his left hip, and either a lemon, a jewel, or a skull cup in his right hand held away from him; Red Jambhala, who may have one head and two arms and either stands or sits with his consort against his left side while holding a mongoose and a jewel.

12th-13th c., Tibet or N. India, Jambhala, bronze+sil. eyes, 13 cm, 16jan21, sale 11 lot 88, Hardt

12th-13th century, Tibet or North(eastern) India, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes (and turquoise), private collection, photo on Hardt

A classic image of Yellow Jambhala, seated with his right leg pendant, the foot placed on a vase of abundance supported by a lotus shoot, holding a jewel-spitting mongoose in his left hand and a citron in the other. He is adorned with a celestial scarf, a crown and princely jewellery, a garland of miniature vases.

Nepal, Jambhala (7)

Circa 15th century, Nepal, Jambhala, iron [sic] with traces of pigment, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

17th century, Nepal, Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam

16th c., Nepal?, Jambhala, stone, 7 cm, lab. North India, vases, 26sep20 sale 10 lot 220, hardt on auction.fr

16th century, Nepal? (labelled North India), Jambhala, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt

The dating makes it unlikely for this sculpture to originate from Kashmir or Northeastern India. We saw a Nepalese Jambhala in a similar style on Hardt auction 7 (item 56).

17th c., Nepal, Yellow Jambhala, stone, sale 5 lot 11, Hardt

17th century, Nepal, Yellow Jambhala, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt., lot 11.

This wealth deity is the king of the yakshas, of which he has the appearance. His yellow form is always peaceful. Adorned with a crown and princely jewellery, he holds a citron in his right hand and a mongoose in the other. 

Tibet, Ratnasambhava (6)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Ratnasambhava, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Drouot

Presumably identified by the inscription at the back of the base, Ratnasambhava is shown in his buddha appearance, his left hand in the meditation gesture, the right hand held palm out, a gem missing from the palm of his right hand. If the missing attribute was a fruit we would be looking at Bhaisajyaguru, the main medicine buddha.

16th century, Tibet, Ratnasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Capriaquar.

The bowl in his left hand is not normally associated with this buddha.

Tibet, deified lamas (11)

15th-16th c., Tibet, lama, (c.a.+blue pig.), antelope skin, vase, 3 tantric adepts, 1766 HAR

Unlabelled (15th or 16th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy and blue pigment), Tsang province atelier, photo on HAR

Seated on an antelope skin atop a lotus base and holding a vase of longevity in his left hand, this young Tibetan teacher dressed in monastic garments is flanked by lotuses topped with miniature tantric adepts with a mahasiddha appearance. A third figure (possibly Padmasambhava?) sits on his head (see close up on above link). 

15th-16th c., Tibet, deified lama, bronze+sil. eyes, 14,3 cm, holds jewel, lotuses+Shakyamuni and hilt of sword, 05dec19, sale 106 lot 161, Nagel

15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo on Nagel , lot 161.

This older man holds a triple gem (triratna) and the stem of lotuses, one of them topped with an effigy of Shakyamuni and the other with the hilt of a sword, according to the auction house. His right hand makes the fear-allaying gesture. 

15th-16th c., Tibet, lama, (brass+cold g.+pig.), 16,5 cm, inscrip. Kunga, rosary+triratna, Sakya school, floral+cloud incisions+stippling, The Endless Knot

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sakya lama (brass with cold gold and pigments), private collection, photo on The Endless Knot

A jolly monk also holding a triple gem, his right hand making the gesture of debate. There is a rosary on the lotus to his right. 

18th c., Tibet, deified lama, gilt bronze, 9,4 cm, ID83497 lot 97, 21jun18, Nagel

18th century, Tibet, teacher, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Nagel

, lot 97

The long sleeves of his upper garment tell us that this adept adorned with large earrings was a layman. He has a manuscript in his topknot and is flanked by lotuses that support Manjushri’s attributes: a manuscript (the Prajnaparamita sutra) and the hilt of a sword. He appears to have a phur.bu tucked in his belt.