Mongolia, two consorts

17th century circa, Mongolia, Mandarava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi

17th century circa, Mongolia, Mandarava, gilt copper alloy, Zanabazar school, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

If this is indeed Mandarava (usually depicted with a ritual arrow in her right hand and a long-life vase in the other) she holds a bowl in her right hand and a (now missing) object in the other. The lotus base with overlapping serrated petals and a row of thick beading and the upper part of her body are typical of Mongolian sculptures of that period, but they are not as refined and well defined as those produced by Zanabazar himself. The lower part of her body – with short legs folded loosely –  is  reminiscent of some Nepalese sculptures of the late Malla period (16th-18th century). She is adorned with coarse beaded jewellery and a crown with a foliate design. Her long transparent dhoti is held in place with a beaded belt, part of the cloth is resting on the base to her sides and under her ankles. Mandarava was a princess from Himachal Pradesh who became a Buddhist teacher and one of Padmasambhava’s main consorts.

Undated, (probably same as before), Yeshe Togyal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, (probably same as before), Yeshe Tsogyal, from a mountain sanctuary, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Depicted in much the same way, including the celestial scarf with thick pleating across her left arm, Yeshe Tsogyal is adorned with beaded jewellery, a low tiara and a flaming jewel on top of her head. The lotus base has a plain rim and rounder petals. Allegedly one of Padmasambhava’s main consorts too, she may never have existed. She is regarded by some Tibetan buddhist schools as a female buddha and an emanation of Vajrayogini, Tara, or Sarasvati.

 

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