Western Tibet, a few triads

11th-12th century, Western Tibet, brass, cold gold, pigment, at the Tsug Lakhang, Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder

11th-12th century, Western Tibet, brass, cold gold, pigment, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder

From left to right, Vajrapani, Manjushri (with sword and manuscript), Avalokiteshvara Padmapani (holding a lotus flower), each standing on a single lotus base typical of Western Tibet. They have unrealistic body proportions and the bows on each side of their head and their  tall chignon (Indian style) are exaggerated. Their hair is covered in blue pigment and their face is painted with cold gold, in the Tibetan tradition. Their dhoti  is longer on one side, it is held in place by a rather stiff sash which sticks out. Their arms are also rather stiff and held in doll-like postures.

12th century, Western Tibet, copper alloy, silver inlay, pigment, private collection

12th century, Western Tibet, copper alloy, copper and silver inlay, pigment, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s

The same triad in a similar style but the lotus bases are resting on a very unusual throne, supported by lions with marked muscles and long manes. Their dhotis are held by a belt. Vajrapani is carrying a thunderbold or vajra in one hand and a bell or ghanta in the other.

12th century, Western Tibet, copper alloy, private collection

12th century, Western Tibet, copper alloy, same as before

From left to right, Manjushri, Vajrapani, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani. Here the lotus base is lower, the chignons are more discreet and made of three decreasing spherical shapes (a style we will find many centuries later in Mongolia). They wear a very low crown, the standard large hoops, sacred thread, and attributes. They have an identical necklace and some simple armbands. The smaller figures have dhotis that are longer on one side and held in place with a belt. The central figure’s dhoti is wrapped around his waste and held in place by a different type of belt (Indian style).

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