Pala India, a few wrathful deities

11th century, India, Vajrapani, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

11th century, India, Vajrapani, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Wrathful Vajrapani, with three eyes, bared fangs and flaming hair, yields a thunderbolt and holds a bell in the other hand, adorned with snakes and a five-skull crown, standing on a lotus base over a tortoise pedestal, his right foot on a lotus flower and the other on a victim. The flaming arch behind him is topped with a garuda which holds a long sneak in its beak.

11th-c-india-vajrapani-c-a-face-rubin-moa

There is an effigy of Amitabha sitting on top of his mitre-like hair.

11th-c-india-vajrapani-c-a-rubin-moa

He wears the skin of a leopard as a loin cloth,  a garland of severed heads and a long snake across his chest (as a sacred thread).

11th-12th century, India, Yamantaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

11th-12th century, Eastern India, Yamantaka, copper alloy, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

Yamantaka is the name of various deities. The above is a form of Krishna Yamari (an emanation of Manjushri), with three heads, each with three eyes, orange flaming hair, an effigy of Akshobhya in his headdress, six hands, the right ones hold a sword, a wheel of dharma (looking like an eight-petal flower), a thunderbolt, the left ones hold a lotus bud, a flaying knife and what may be a skull cup, two legs standing on a male buffalo, which normally faces the other way round (the photo may be the wrong way round). He wears a tiger skin dhoti and is adorned with snakes and a garland of freshly severed heads.

12th century, India, labelled Vighnantaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

12th century, India, labelled Vighnantaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The iconography is very similar but this is more likely to be Achala, who may also do a wrathful gesture at heart level with his left hand and whose main attribute is the  sword he holds in his right hand, above his head. Vighnantaka’s main attribute is the vajra (thunderbolt), which he holds in his right hand. He may hold a lasso in the other, or a sword or a blue lotus. It is not clear what the above holds in his left hand but he does the karana mudra which is the gesture wrathful deities do when holding a lasso.

(Shortly, a page on mudras will be published).

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