Pala India, Manjuvajra Manjushri

12th century, India, Manjuvajra, bronze, at the British Museum in London (UK).

12th century, Eastern India, Manjuvajra, bronze, at the British Museum in London (UK).

This esoteric form of Manjushri has three faces and six arms. The main hands are crossed over the chest, each holding a vajra, the upper hands once held a sword and a bow, the other two held the stem of a lotus and an arrow. The eyes are inlaid with silver and the pupils are close to the upper eyelid, a fashion proper to Indian works.

12th century, India, Manjuvajra, brass and pigments, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

12th century, India, Manjuvajra, brass and pigments, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This type of tall lotus base with thick beading is typical of the Pala period and is often seen on contemporary and later Tibetan works.

12th century, Northeast India, Manjuvajra, brass, silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie's.

12th century, Northeast India, Manjuvajra, brass, silver-inlaid eyes and copper inlaid lips and necklace, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The lotus he holds sometimes supports a book/manuscript.

12th-13th century, Northeast India, Manjuvajra, copper alloy, published by Rossi & Rossi.

12th-13th century, Northeast India, Manjuvajra, copper alloy, published by Rossi & Rossi.

11th-12th century, India, Guhyasamaja Manjuvajra, steatite, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

11th-12th century, India, Guhyasamaja Manjuvajra, steatite, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

Always depicted with his consort (Sparsavajra), this form of Manjuvajra is rare among sculptures. He holds the same attributes and embraces her with his main hands.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Pala India, Manjuvajra Manjushri

  1. It’s really interesting to see different work with a similar theme, like the crossed wrists – is it embracing, defensive, a statement – in a couple there is a suggestion of movement too! Wonderful!

    • Ah, yes, you are so right, it is all highly symbolical. When the crossed wrists are palm outwards it is to ward off evil and it is called the “vajrahumkara mudra”, the same gesture with the palm inwards is seen on different deities, alone or paired, and therefore has a different meaning, basically related to heart qualities, but, rightly or wrongly, most descriptions use the same name for it. Glad you spotted that detail!

      • Definitely. In fact these gestures partly allows us to differentiate between one deity or the other, although it is generally more complicated than that because each region has its variants and several deities may do the same gestures, so you also have to pay attention to the objects in their hands, in their headdress, on the lotus they hold, on the pedestal etc. A post on this subject is well overdue and will hopefully materialise one of these days, but in the meantime you can look up the term ‘mudra’ on the internet to see the basic ones and their meaning. Have fun!

      • Thank you! I did go on a Buddhist course and learnt just some basic mudras, but have forgotten them – thanks for the suggestion! I look forward to your post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s