Tibet, Vajrakila

Vajrakila/Vajrakilaya or Vajrakumara is a semi-wrathful meditational deity (known as heruka) who embodies the activity of all buddhas. On paintings, he is always depicted with his consort but on sculptures he may be alone and usually has wings.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrakilaya, brass, at the Newark Museum (USA).

14th century, Tibet, Vajrakilaya, brass, at the Newark Museum (USA).

He has 3 faces with 3 eyes and bared fangs, a half-vajra finial on top of his head, six hands with various attributes. On the above picture, two of the left hands hold a trident, two of the right hands hold a thunderbolt or vajra, the other right hand has the palm open in a symbolical gesture and the remaining left hand holds a ritual dagger know as kila (phurba or phurbu in Tibetan). He wears a tiger skin loin cloth, a human skin and an elephant hide over his back and is adorned with snakes. His (4) legs normally tread on two victims.

His lower body may be a kila, topped with a makara (mythical creature) and decorated with snakes.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vajrakila, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vajrakila, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection.

Undated, Tibet, bronze with stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, bronze with stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

On the above, he is holding the kila in his main hands at heart level, above the head of the makara.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrakila and consort, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, photo by Christie's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrakila and consort, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, photo by Christie’s.

On this Nepalese-style sculpture, Vajrakila holds a kila in his main hands at heart level, two vajras with his remaining right hands, a trident and a branch in the remaining left hands.  His consort, Dipta Chakra, holds a skull cup and a flaying knife and wears a bone apron.12th-13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

12th-13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

This earlier version shows him with a kila in his main hands, two vajras in the other right hands, a trident and a staff with a skull and a vajra finial in the other left hands. She is wearing a leopard-skin loin cloth or dhoti.

16th century, Tibet, bronze with pigment and cold gold, at the Basel Museum

16th century, Tibet, bronze with pigment and cold gold, at the Basel Museum der Kulturen.

This later version shows him with wings spread open, holding two vajras, a kila, a branch of  myrobalan tree and part of another attribute, possibly a trident.

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