Tibet, Mahakala Chaturbhuja (2)

15th century, Tibet, Mahakala, brass, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, Mahakala, brass, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Mahakala Chaturbhuja (‘with four arms’) holds a skull cup and a flaying knife in his main hands at heart level, a sword and a trident in the others. He is adorned with wrathful ornaments (five-skull crown, garland of 50 freshly severed heads, tiger skin dhoti, bone and snake jewellery and snake sacred cord) and a celestial scarf that forms an arch behind him (a fashion that became particularly popular during the 13th and 14th century in Tibet). His eyes are inlaid with silver.

15th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Kapoor Gallery.

15th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Kapoor Gallery.

Seated on a victim, over a Yongle-style single-lotus base with the petals going downwards and two rows of beading, Mahakala wears a Chinese-style cross belt and celestial scarf forming loops around his elbows. He is adorned with floral earrings, a crown with skulls and floral panels, snake jewellery. His fierce expression is enhanced with cold gold and pigments, his flaming hair is fastened into a bunch and topped with a half vajra.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt copper alloy with pigment, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt copper alloy with pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

We see him here seated on cushion over a throne.

Same as before, parcel-gilt

Same as before, parcel-gilt copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Mahakala Chaturbhuja, Tibet, 15th-16th c., parcel gilt silver+cop. inlay, 16 cm, skullcup, snakes, sil.eyes, cop. lips, close up

On this masterpiece, Mahakala has silver-inlaid eyes, copper inlaid lips and gilt facial hair. He brandishes a flaming sword and a (broken) trident.

Mahakala Chaturbhuja, Tibet, 15th-16th c., parcel gilt silver+cop. inlay, 16 cm, skullcup, snakes, sil.eyes, cop. lips, seated on victim

The head of the tiger skin used as a loin cloth rests over his right knee, the tail of the animal covers the other knee. Mahakala is seated on a victim.

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