Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa (3)

In Tibet, Virupa is by far the most frequently depicted Indian adept. Sculptures of him come under two basic forms.

Undated, Tibet, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He may be seated on an antelope (or a deer) skin with one leg loosely folded and the other raised, his right or left hand pointing in the air to ‘stop the sun in its course’ and the other hand holding a skull cup.

Same as before.

Same as before, with cold gold and pigments on the face.

Alternatively he may be leaning on the other hand.

17th century, copper alloy, with silver inlay, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

17th century, copper alloy, with silver inlay, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

Occasionally he wears a leather strap to keep his raised knee in place while meditating for a long time.

Mahasiddha Virupa, 17th c., Tibet, c.a.+s., 20,5 cm, close up

He is usually adorned with a garland of flowers and a matching tiara.

Undated, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments.

Undated, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments.

On this more modern sculpture, he is seated with both legs folded towards him but also has a meditation belt.

Same as before, at the Tibet House Museum, New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Same as before (15th century circa), at the Tibet House Museum, New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The other basic form depicts him seated in a yogic position, the upper part of his feet resting over the pedestal, and  his hands doing the dharmacakra mudra (turning the wheel of dharma).

Mahasiddha Virupa, Tibet, undated, c.a.+cold g.+pig., Tibet House, back

On this example the garland of flowers goes across his back and chest rather than around his neck.

In this context, flowers indicate a rejection of the Hindu caste system and/or the adoption of an anti-social behaviour as part of the practice of tantric Buddhism.

 

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