Tibet, Vajravarahi with lotuses

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, copper with copper alloy, gold, silver and stone inlay, private collection.

13th-14th century, Tibet, meditational deity Vajravarahi, copper with copper alloy, gold, silver and stone inlay, private collection.

This would be a standard Tibetan representation of Vajravarahi, consort of Chakrasamvara, but for the two long-stemmed lotuses on which her body seems to be resting, in the manner of North Eastern Pala India sculptures, and the unusual shape of the Indian Pala-style double-lotus base.

Easily recognisable because the head of a sow is sticking out of her own, she is standing with her left foot over a human figure and holding a skull cup and flaying knife. She is wearing a thick garland of fifty severed human heads, a beaded belt once inlaid with three stones, some simple bracelets and matching necklace, a sacred thread going under one of her breasts, some round earrings, some interesting armbands and ‘legbands’ (worn around the calves rather than the ankles) with a foliate pattern and stone inlay, a small tiara made of five skulls and a big hair ornament. Her fierce eyes are inlaid with silver.

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