Tibet, Manjushri with sword (2)

There are different names for Manjushri seated and brandishing his sword, depending on the colour of his body (on paintings) and where the Prajnaparamita manuscript is placed and how he holds his left hand.

11th-12th century, Western Tibet, Ngari district, Manjushri Sthiracakra, at the gTsug Lakhang, photo by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th-12th century, Western Tibet, Ngari district, Manjushri Sthiracakra, at the Jokhang, photo by Ulrich von Schroeder.

On this sculpture from Western Tibet, we can see how the hand that holds the blue lotus topped with the manuscript is resting against his hip. In his right hand, he brandishes a sword tipped with a half-thunderbolt or vajra. The plinth, the mandorla, the developed pectorals and the lobed abdomen are typical of Kashmiri works but the facial features and the crown are not.

12th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri Arachapana, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

12th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri Arapachana, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

According to scriptures, the Sthira Chakra form and the Arapachana forms are the same except for the colour of the body, something which does not apply to sculptures. Originally, the book was held in the left hand at heart level.  On rare occasions is there a manuscript both on the lotus and in the left hand, as on the Indian Pala-style figure above.

14th century, Tibet, Manjushri Arachapana, gilt copper alloy, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

14th century, Tibet, Manjushri Arapachana, gilt metal with turquoise inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

Eventually, the standard representation was a sword in the right hand, a book on top of the lotus and the left hand in the gesture of debate or discussion at heart level, as on the above Nepalese-style work.

18th century, Tibet, Manjushri Arapachana, published by Ian Alsop.

18th century, Tibet, Manjushri Arapachana, published by Ian Alsop.

This late work depicts him with the left hand holding the manuscript (topped with a pearl) and doing a different symbolic gesture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s