Tibet, various buddhas

15th-16th century, Tibet, Ashkattamshri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Ashokattamshri, gilt copper alloy, inscription on the base, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

One of the eight medicine buddhas, Ashokattamshri holds both hands in the meditation gesture (like Amitabha but without a bowl). The above wears a patched monastic robe with a broad hem decorated with an incised pattern.

17th century, Tibet, Anantatejas, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

17th century, Tibet, Anantatejas, gilt copper alloy, inscription on the base, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Anantatejas is one of the thirty-five confession buddhas. He holds his left hand in the meditation gesture and the other is extended palm out (like Ratnasambhava but without a gem in the palm).

18th century, Tibet, confession buddha, probably Viranandi, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

18th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, confession buddha, probably Viranandi, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

Viranandi holds the stem of a lotus in his left hand and a sun disc in the other (unless it is a full moon, in which case it would be Brahmadatta).

16th century, Tibet, Nagaraja, bronze and pigment, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Swtizerland).

16th century, Tibet, Nagaraja, bronze and pigment, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Swtizerland).

Buddha Nagaraja is easily recognisable through his hood made of seven snakes. He holds his hands at heart level in a gesture specific to him.

17th century circa, Tibet, Suvikranta jina, confession buddha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

17th century circa, Tibet, Suvikranta jina, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Licchavi-revival sculptures, a style that was popular in Tibet around the 17th century, depicts one of the confession buddhas, identified through an inscription on the back.

18th-19th c., Tibet, confession buddha, gilt copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

18th-19th c., Tibet, confession buddha, gilt copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

On the very useful Himalayan Art Resources website, Jeff Watts explains that there are various ways of depicting the 35 confession buddhas. They may simply have particular hand gestures, or they may hold an attribute. Some of them have the same hand gestures as the five dhyani buddhas. The main figure at the centre – and part of the set of 35 –  is usually Shakyamuni, but it can be Nageshvara Raja (also known as Nagaraja, not to be confused with the historical character of the same name). Occasionally, Maitreya and Amitabha are added. With sculptures, unless there is an inscription on the base, identification is often very difficult because there is no body colour to go by and because sets have often been split and various buddhas have the same iconography.

 

 

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