Tibet, Vajradhara – alone (2)

Depending on which Tibetan school we are talking about, Vajradhara is the primordial or adi buddha, or an emanation of buddha Samanthabhadra, or an emanation of the five dyani buddhas. He always has a bodhisattva appearance and may be standing or seated, alone or with his consort.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy and pigment, photo by Sotheby's.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy, stone inlay and pigment, photo by Sotheby’s.

When seated, Vajradhara always has his legs in the vajra position.

14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt hollow-cast copper, at the Alain Bordier Foundation.

14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt hollow-cast copper, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

He normally has one head and two arms, crossed over his chest, and holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a bell or ghanta in the other.

14th century circa, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy

14th century circa, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay and pigment, photo by Sotheby’s.

15th century, same as above.

15th century, same as above.

14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, brass with stone inlay, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, brass with stone inlay, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Alternatively, he is framed by two lotuses which support a vajra and a bell at shoulder level. The vajra may be placed horizontally or upright on the lotus.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, photo by Christie's.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, photo by Christie’s.

He may also have three heads and six hands.  The central hands hold a vajra and a ghanta. The others would normally hold a hook, a skull cup, a sword and a noose, according to Indian scriptures, but none of the missing attributes above appear to have been a skull cup. This may be because iconography varies from one country to the other.

 

 

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