Tibet, Yaksha generals

The 12 Yaksha generals (also known as heavenly or divine generals) are protectors who accompany the buddha of medicine Bhaisajyaguru and his retinue. Each of them holds a mongoose in the left hand and an object in the other (vajra, sword, stick, trident, axe, lass, wheel). Several of them hold the same object (on paintings their body is a different colour to distinguish them). They are normally seated, their short legs loosely gathered before them. They wear a crown, some jewellery, a silk scarf, and a silk dhoti (which helps differentiate them from the lokapala Vaishravana, who wears a full armour).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Yaksha general, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Yaksha general, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The above is seated on a single-lotus base over a richly decorated cushion. He holds what should be a dharma wheel but has been labelled as ‘coral’. His mongoose is spitting a jewel.

15th-16th c., Tibet, Yaksha general, holds coral+mongoose, 14,2 cm, detail

He has a semi-wrathful face with bushy eyebrows and a goatee. On paintings his body is red.

Undated (15th-16th century?), same as before, private collection in Paris, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (15th-16th century?), same as before, parisian museum collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This one has a lasso in his right hand. On paintings his body is yellow.

15th-16th c?, Tibet, Yaksha general, gilt c.a., inscrip. in Tibetan, holds staff, part of a set, private on HAR

15th-16th c?, Tibet, Yaksha general, gilt c.a., inscrip. in Tibetan, holds staff+mongoose, private on HAR

These are two of the four generals who hold a stick. Their jewel-spitting mongoose is in a different position, the second one has a goatee and wears a sash across his chest.

Same as before.

Same as before.

This is one of two who hold a sword.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Yaksha general, gilt copper alloy, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

18th-19th century, Tibet, Yaksha general, gilt copper alloy, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

The above has been labelled “Kubera” but in fact, apart from not being a character of the Tibetan pantheon, Kubera holds either a pomegranate, a mace or a bag of money in his hand. This Yaksha holds a vajra. On paintings his body would be yellow.

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