Pala India, various female deities

12th century, Northeast India, Vajravarahi, brass, private collection, photo by Christie's.

12th century, Northeast India, Vajravarahi, brass, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Vajravarahi has a human head with three eyes and a sow’s head sticking out of hers. She holds a flaying knife, a skull cup and a ritual staff (khatvanga) and treads on a female victim with her left foot, her left knee resting on a lotus bud that stems from the base. She is adorned with a five-skull crown, jewellery, a festooned belt and a garland of severed heads.

12th century, Northern India, Vajravarahi, copper alloy, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

12th century, Northern India, Vajravarahi, copper alloy, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

12th-c-india-n-vajravarahi-1880-cm-face-gtsug-lakhang

On this example (with a broken knife and missing skull cup), the artist has made extensive use of silver and copper inlay for her accessories. Having been worshipped in Tibet, her face is painted with cold gold and her hair with orange pigment (reserved to deities with a wrathful appearance).

12th century, India, Nairatmya, brass, same as before.

12th century, India, Nairatmya, brass, same as before.

Nairatmya, female buddha and meditational deity, has one head with three eyes, orange hair topped with a half-vajra finial,  and holds the same attributes as Vajravarahi. She may stand on one or two victims (as above).

11th century, Northern India, Marici, gilt metal, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th century, Northern India, Marici, gilt metal, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This form of Marici, the goddess of dawn, is known as ‘kalpoktam’. She has three heads (two human heads and the head of a sow)  and eight hands, in which she holds various attributes. On this well-preserved sculpture, she stands on a double lotus over a stepped base which has many legs and is adorned with pigs at the front. The mandorla behind her has a serrated edge (symbolising flames) and is topped with an effigy of Amitabha and a stupa.

11th-c-india-n-marici-kalpoktam-gilt-metal-3080-cm-3-head-8-hands-sow-headed-figure-on-top-gtsug-lakhang

There is a pig-headed figure standing on her head. In her hands she holds a vajra and a branch of the asoka tree, a bow, a hook and an arrow (all three missing), a needle and a thread (her specific attributes). The lower left hand does a wrathful gesture.

 

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