Tibet, Mahakala – Shadbhuja (5)

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

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

Mahakala holds the hide of an elephant with his upper hands, a flaying knife and a skull cup at heart level in his middle hands, a (partly broken) drum and a noose in the his lower hands. He stands on an elephant-headed deity (Ganapati) over a double-lotus base with broad petals.

15th c., Tibet, Mahakala shadbhuja, polyc. wood, elephant hide, stands on Ganapati, 35,5 cm, close up

His flaming hair stands straight on his head, he is adorned with jewellery and snakes, a garland of freshly severed heads, a five-skull crown with foliate panels. He wears a flowing scarf and a tiger skin dhoti.

16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, bronze, private collection.

16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, bronze, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Mahakala is portrayed with a couple of characters next to him (Jinamitra and takkiraja), and a tiny Vajrapani above his head on the flaming arch. He stands on two elephant-headed deities, each holding a mongoose..

16th c., Tibet, Mahakala Shadbhuja, bronze+brass+ pig., close up

In his main hands he holds a flaying knife and skull cup, his upper hands hold the hide of an elephant, together with a rosary and a trident, the attributes in his lower hands (probably a noose or a vajra hook and a drum) are missing.

16th c., Tibet, Mahakala Shadbhuja, bronze+brass+ pig., detail

Below him, there is a figure riding a lion and holding a skull cup.

18th century, same as before.

Labelled 18th century (possibly 16th), same as before.

This similar-looking masterpiece depicts him standing on Ganapati, with the standard flaying knife and skull cup in his main hands, rosary and drum in the remaining right hands, noose in the lower left hand, but there are a couple of unusual features:

18th c., Tibet, Mahakala Shadbhuja, bronze, 32 cm, Shangpa Kagyu, buddha detail

an effigy of Akshobhya on top of his hair, more often seen on older sculptures of Mahakala in his Chaturbhuja or Panjarnata form.

18th c., Tibet, Mahakala Shadbhuja, bronze, 32 cm, Shangpa Kagyu, figure in hand

and a human head on a stick in his upper left hand (instead of a trident).

 

 

 

 

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