Tibet, Begtse Chen

There are very few sculptures of Begtse Chen (‘Great Coat of Mail’) and most of them were made in Mongolia.

18th century, Tibet, Begtse Chen, copper alloy, at the Southern Alleghienes Museum of Art (USA).

18th century (or earlier?), Tibet, Begtse Chen, copper alloy, at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (USA).

A protector in Tibet, associated with Hayagriva, this deity is the red form of Mahakala. He is identified through his coat of mail and thick boots. He wears a garland of severed heads and a skull crown, brandishes a sword in his right hand, treads on an animal and a human figure, and has flaming hair and a third eye. The above holds a sword in his right hand and the heart of an enemy in the other, painted with red pigment like his flaming hair.

18th century, Tibet, Begtse Chen, copper alloy, private collection.

18th century, Tibet, Begtse Chen, copper alloy, private collection.

On this more modern-looking sculpture he his surrounded by fire.

Late 18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Begtse Chen, gilt copper alloy, photo by Nagel.

Late 18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Begtse Chen, gilt copper alloy, photo by Nagel.

Made by a Tibetan artist in China or for a Chinese patron, this work displays typical Chinese features such as the flaming hair slanting to one side, the celestial scarf forming a rigid arch behind his head, an elegant loop at elbow level, and snake-like ends, the soft round draping of his lower garment, the serpentine ribbons of his crown. On this example, his left hand does the vitarka mudra.

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