Gandhara, a rare seated buddha

Circa 7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Gandhara, Seated Preaching Buddha, bronze, private collection, ‘Beyond Boundaries: Gandharan Buddhist Art’, exhibition organised by Osmund Bopearachchi and UC Berkeley Art Museum (see BAMPFA  )

We have seen a few standing buddhas from Gandhara with the same type of backplate (with elongated lotus petals tipped with three precious jewels all along the edge of the two-piece mandorla). This one is a rare example depicting Shakyamuni seated on a throne supported by two animals (lions?) atop a Swat Valley style double lotus base, wearing the four-pointed cape usually seen on Crowned Buddha images.

Tibet, various dakinis (13)

16th century, Tibet, dakini, gilt copper alloy, 14,3 cm, private collection, photo on Koller , auction A201AS, lot 111.

Standing on a lotus pedestal decorated with a large turquoise-inlaid flower, this irate female with three eyes and bared fangs holds a vajra sceptre in her right hand, with her arm held down, and a skull cup or a bowl in the other. She wears a minimal bone apron with raining-jewel pendants, a (damaged) five-skull crown, floral jewellery, a garland of severed heads. The victims under her feet, who probably embody ignorance and ego, each hold a flaying knife and a skull cup.

17th century, Tibet, Dakini Vetali, copper alloy, 19,5 cm, private collection, photo on Koller as before, 106.

Vetali, one of the eight great dakinis, holds a tortoise in her right hand and a skull cup in the other.

Tibet, Vajrapani – Chanda (7)

11th-12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, 14 cm, aureole possibly slightly later, private collection, photo on Koller

Wrathul Vajrapani standing on a singular pedestal with a large lotus flower at the centre, brandishing a vajra sceptre in his right hand and making a wrathful gesture with the other, adorned with snakes, including on his ears. His hair forms a naga hood behind his low Pala-style three-leaf tiara. His loin cloth (usually the whole skin of a tiger) has no animal head, legs, or tail showing.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, brass, 15 cm, private collection, photo on Koller

This one comes complete with a vajra lasso wound around his forefinger. He wears a human hide on his back, which is unusual for this deity (yet we can see a hand hanging over his right arm), a tiger skin knotted around his belly, a Chinese-style cross-belt with jewelled pendants, writhing snakes, a five-skull crown with three jewels and a half-vajra on top of each skull, floral earrings and a matching necklace. He crushes two victims with no snakes under them.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, wood with traces of gilding and red paint, 8,5 cm, private collection, same as before, lot 505, photo on Koller

It is most unusual for the tarjani mudra (forefinger raised, other fingers closed) to be made with the back of the hand facing the viewer.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR

Almost identical to a Mongolian-style figure seen on Christie’s (see photo here ), the above depicts a variant of chanda Vajrapani who points sideways with his left hand. He has a very large tiger skin around his waist, another hide on his back, a leonine face in his mitre-like flaming hair, and is adorned with a skull crown, bone jewellery, a Chinese-style cross-belt, a long snake, and a garland of severed heads.

Nepal, Hayagriva

Circa 8th century, Nepal, Hayagriva, gilt copper, 40,5 cm, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, inventory nº 285, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

A rare and early metal image of Hayagriva (identified by the horse’s head on his flaming chignon) depicted as an attendant: he leans on a danda staff and raises a hand (vandana mudra) towards the main deity he accompanies, usually Tara or Avalokiteshvara. A billowing scarf forms a nimbus behind his head and he is adorned with snakes, including one to hold his short dhoti in place and another worn as a sacred thread.

Tibet, Ushnishavijaya (14)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Ushnishavijaya, brass, 15,1 cm, Jokhang/gTsug Lakhang collection, Lhasa, inventory nº 215, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

Ushnishavijaya in her three-head and eight-arm form, holding a visvajra and a lasso in her main hands, a water pot in the lower left one, an effigy of Amitabha in her upper right one, a bow and arrow now missing from her middle hands. The lower right hand makes the gesture of supreme generosity, the upper left one makes the fear-allaying gesture. She has three peaceful faces, each with a third eye.

18th century, Tibet, Ushnishavijaya, gilt copper, 20,7 cm, Jokhang/gTsug Lakhang collection, Lhasa, inventory nº 186, photo and details as before, Fig. 18B.

This is the same form of this long-life deity, whose name means ‘victorious goddess of the ushnisha‘, but only her right face is peaceful. The main one is semi-wrathful, and, judging by the red eyebrows, the left one maybe wrathful.

Nepal, Tara (6)

15th-16th century, Nepal, Tara, gilt copper, 14,6 cm, private collection, Asian Art lot 709, Sotheby’s, 19th September 2015.

15th-16th century, Nepal, Tara, gilt bronze, private collection, Indian & Southeast Asian Art lot 1003, 19th march 2014, Christie’s.

18th century, Nepal, Tara, (metal alloy), photo on Photodharma  Fig. 19, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai (India).

Green Tara making the gesture to bestow patience with her left hand (tip of middle finger on tip of thumb) and the gesture of knowledge with her right hand.

17th century, Nepal, White Tara, (gilt copper or copper alloy with turquoise, lapis lazuli, clear gems), photo on Photodharma Fig. 17, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai (India).

White Tara, making the gesture of debate with her left hand and the gesture of knowledge with the other.

17th century, Nepal, Tara, gilt copper with stone inlay, photo by Thierry Ollivier on Images d’Art,  MA12162 at the Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

A standing version, her crown missing.

Tibet, lamas on double lotus base (3)

Circa 13th century, Tibet, monk, brass (with copper inlay), 13,7 cm, Jokhang/gTsug Lakhang collection, Lhasa, inventory nº 536(B), photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

Circa 13th century, Tibet, monk, brass, 22,1 cm, Jokhang/gTsug Lakhang collection, Lhasa, inventory nº 866, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

13th-14th century, Tibet, monk, brass (with copper beading), 15,4 cm, Jokhang/gTsug Lakhang collection, Lhasa, inventory nº 741, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

12th-13th century, Tibet, monk, brass (with copper and silver inlay), 19,2 cm, Jokhang/gTsug Lakhang collection, Lhasa, inventory nº 571, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

 

Tibet, Phagmo Drupa (2)

For the sake of accuracy, all posts including sculptures photographed by Ulrich von Schroeder in Tibet are being updated and will have a direct link to the relevant page on his online publication Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet .

Circa 13th century, Tibet, Phagmo Drupa, brass (with copper-inlaid border), 19,2 cm, Jokhang/Tsug Lakhang Collection, inventory nº 832, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

All the sculptures of Phagmo Drupa/Pagmodrupa that we have seen so far depict him seated in the vajra position, with his right hand ‘calling Earth to witness’ and the other in the gesture of meditation, like most images of the historical buddha. (for biographical notes see Treasury of Lives )

13th century, Tibet, Phagmo Drupa, gilt copper, height estimate 10 cm, Jokhang/gTsug Lakhang collection, Lhasa, inventory nº 840, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

A singular portrait of an elderly man, bald and with a double chin, dressed in full monastic garments with a beaded hem (a vest, a lower garment, an outer robe that leaves his right arm bare, and a meditation cloak), his robe engraved with a ‘lotus within a diamond’ symbol at the front.

Tibet, Tara and Maitreya at the Potala

For the sake of accuracy, all posts including sculptures photographed by Ulrich von Schroeder in Tibet are being updated and will have a direct link to the relevant page on his online publication Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet . As a result of this updating, it looks as if two items in the above-mentioned publication have each other’s title, i.e. Tara is labelled Maitreya and vice versa (incidentally, on the Himalayan Art Resources they are published as ‘Tibet, Buddhist, private collection’ but further down item 30235  is labelled ‘Maitreya’ and item 30234 is labelled ‘Tara’).

11th-12th century, Tibet, Tara (not Maitreya), brass, 154 cm, at the Lima Lakhang of the Potala, Lhasa, inventory nº 1618, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

11th-12th century, Tibet, Maitreya (not Tara), bronze, 166 cm, at the Lima Lakhang of the Potala, Lhasa, inventory nº 1616, photo and details on Ulrich von Schroeder

Tibet, Shakyamuni – variants (7)

16th century, Tibet, Buddha, gilt bronze, private collection, auction 1115 lot 164, 19th September 2002, Christie’s.

The position of this buddha’s left hand is most unusual; the other hand is raised to dispel fear and shows well-modelled delicate fingers. He wears a patched robe that covers both shoulders but leaves his right arm free.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, auction 2674 lot 507, 27th September 2005, Christie’s (Amsterdam).

Dressed in a diaphanous garment, the end folded over the left shoulder, the historical buddha dispels fear and cups his left hand in the gesture of meditation.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, private collection, auction 2354, Important Hindu and Buddhist Art lot 73, Christie’s (Amsterdam).

Making the preaching gesture (turning the wheel of dharma) with his hands apart, he wears a finely pleated sanghati  that covers one shoulder only, with no pleated cloth on it.

15th-16th century, Tibet, buddha, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s

Making the same gesture with one hand facing the other, a vajra sceptre placed before him to symbolise the place where he made his first sermon. His transparent sanghati has an embroidered border with a lotus motif.