Tibet, Hayagriva alone

Hayagriva is a meditational deity and one of the eight-pronouncement herukas (in which case he is the wrathful form of Avalokiteshvara).

In his basic form, he has one face (peaceful or wrathful) with three eyes, two hands, a horse’s head in his hair, two legs.

Undated, Tibet, bronze with cold gold and pigment, private collection.

Undated, Tibet, bronze with cold gold and pigment, private collection.

He may be simply adorned with snakes. He usually has an orange moustache and beard, orange flaming hair, and a staff in his right hand (not to be confused with Achala’s sword).

15th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy and pigment, photo by Christie’s.

The above sculpture shows him with a noose in his left hand. The horse’s head is painted with green pigment, he wears a five-leaf crown inlaid with stones and a tiger skin loin cloth knotted at the front.

15th century circa, Tibet, gilt copper, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

15th century circa, Tibet, gilt copper, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

In a more elaborate form, he has three heads, with three eyes and horse’s head in his hair, four to eight hands, two legs. The above holds a noose, a staff and a thunderbolt in his right hands. His main left hand holds a skull cup, the other makes a symbolical gesture or mudra and the top one holds a flaming sword. His tiger skin loin cloth is knotted at the front, the head of the tiger resting over his right thigh. He wears a garland of severed heads, snakes and stone-inlaid jewellery.

16th century, Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, private collection.

16th century, Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, private collection.

This later version shows him with his hair tied into a bunch and topped with a horse’s head, skull crowns, various pairs of legs, some victims under his feet.

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