Tibet, Prajnaparamita

9th-10th century, Tibet, Prajnaparamita, copper alloy, private collection, published by Cornette de St Cyr.

9th-10th century, Tibet, Prajnaparamita, copper alloy, private collection, published by Cornette de Saint Cyr.

Prajnaparamita, mother of all buddhas, may have one head and two or four hands, she can be standing or seated. The above has Nepalese-style facial features, hair ornament and lotus base. She holds a rosary and a pot of water (an unusual attribute for this deity) in her upper hands. Her lower right hand displays the gesture of supreme generosity, the other once held the (broken) stem of a lotus that supports a manuscript (the Prajnaparamita sutra).

11th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, brass, at the Walters Art Museum (US).

11th century, Western Tibet, labelled Manjushri, brass, at the Walters Art Museum (US).

This is a good example of how tricky it can be to identify a deity. There is a one head and four-armed form of Manjushri but he would hold a bow and an arrow as well as a book and a blue lotus.

11th-c-western-tibet-prajnaparamita-brass-1492-cm-unid-object

On the Himalayan Art Resources website this figure is labelled Prajnaparamita, and indeed the four-arm form of this deity would have a rosary (missing here) in her top right hand and manuscript in the other. The lower left hand is held flat, as if to hold a bowl, the other holds an object which should be a vajra sceptre although it looks different.

Undated, Western Tibet, brass, Prajnaparamita, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (12th century circa), Western Tibet, brass, Prajnaparamita, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

12th-c-western-tibet-prajnaparamita-brass-detail-on-har

This other West Tibetan image depicts her with the same hand position and attributes, including the unusual object/vajra in her lower right hand.

14th century, Tibet, Prajnaparamita, copper alloy, same as before.

14th century, Tibet, Prajnaparamita, copper alloy, same as before.

When seated she is usually framed by lotuses, one of them supporting the manuscript.

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