Tibet, Manjushri – namasangiti

In Tibet, there are various forms of Manjushri as a meditational deity which are given various names and are a little difficult to differentiate.

15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper, published by Ian Alsop.

15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper, published by Ian Alsop.

16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, private collection.

16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, private collection.

15th century, Tibet or Nepal, Manjushri Namasangiti, gilt copper alloy, photo by Bonhams.

15th century, Tibet or Nepal, Manjushri Namasangiti, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

Manjushri in his namasangiti form may have one head and four hands, holding a bow, an arrow and a sword (often missing) in three of his hands, the other making a symbolic gesture at heart level. There is normally a long-stem lotus to his left, with a manuscript on top. In some scriptures he is described as holding the book in his hand.

14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, bronze with cold gold and pigment, photo by Christie's.

14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, Namasangiti, bronze with cold gold and pigment, photo by Christie’s.

He may also have three heads and six hands, the main hands usual hold two thunderbolts at heart level.

13th-14th century, Central Tibet, Manjushri, brass, private collection.

13th-14th century, Central Tibet, Manjushri, brass, private collection.

To complicate matters, there may be some variation in the position of the attributes or in their combination, or they may be broken or missing. However, the hilt of the sword remaining in his top right hand leaves no doubt as to the fact that the above is a representation of Manjushri, but this may be his Manjuvajra form (on paintings he sits on a lion when alone), who  has three heads and six arms and holds a sword, a blue lotus, a bow, an arrow and does a mudra with two of his hands, but usually depicted with his consort.

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