Tibet, Bhurkumkuta

Burkhumkuta vajrapani is a tantric deity whose function it is to eradicate illness and disease. In this context, vajrapani is used as an epithet, meaning ‘thunderbolt bearer’, and the deity is not a wrathful form of bodhisattva Vajrapani.

Almost exclusively represented on paintings, he has a wrathful look, with one or three heads, each with three eyes, bared fangs, orange hair and  a 5-skull crown, 2 legs, 2 to 6 arms. In one of his right hands he holds a double thunderbolt or visvajra (unlike wrathful Vajrapani who holds a simple vajra). He wears a tiger skin and snake ornaments.

16th century, Tibet, Bhurkumkuta, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

16th century, Tibet, Bhurkumkuta, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

When represented with 6 hands, he normally holds the visvajra, a 5-prong vajra and a vajra hook in his right hands. In his left hands he may have a vajra stick and a vajra lasso, the third hand in a symbolical gesture or mudra. The above figure has a bone apron over his tiger skin dhoti (the paws of the animal are dangling between his legs), a thin celestial scarf, a short necklace with a lotus flower, lotus earrings and the usual bodhisattva jewellery as well as snake ornaments. This hair on this very rare statue has been painted with red pigment.

Back view, photo published on Himalayan Art Resources

Back view, photo published on Himalayan Art Resources

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