Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa – variants

15th century circa, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

By far the most commonly depicted mahasiddha, Virupa is seen here with his hands in the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, seated on an antelope skin over an unusual lotus base with tiny petals incised on the upper tier, a long-life vase placed to his left, a small medicine jar with a lid on the other side.

The artist has used silver inlay for his eyes, teeth, and part of his dhoti, which is incised with a floral motif.

Undated (15th or 16th century), Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

An almost life-like portrait with a similar iconography, the eyes and teeth inlaid with silver, the hair adorned with a floral tiara, the body adorned with jewellery, a cross belt and a long garland of flowers. The artist has taken great care with every detail, including his fingers and toes, and the hair on the skin of the antelope.

Undated (15th or 16th century), origin not specified (probably Tibet), Mahasiddha Virupa, brass with silver and copper inlay, at a mountain sanctuary, private collection, published on Himalayan Buddhist Art.

This singular image of Virupa shows him with both hands in prayer, his legs held together with a meditation strap, adorned with flowers.

15th century, same, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Most Tibetan sculptures of Virupa depict him with one hand raised, to stop the course of the Sun. The other hand may hold a skull cup or rest on the lotus base, as above. The yogic strap holds his raised knee.

Undated (15th or 16th century , Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He doesn’t always have a meditation band but is usually adorned with large flowers (tiara, earrings, garland etc.).

16th century, Central Tibet, Tsang atelier, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The Chinese-style cross belt with one or more pendants is typical of the 16th century onwards. It usually goes with beaded bone jewellery. His eyes and teeth are inlaid with silver. A large floral tiara with floral bows and ribbons adorns his hair.

Undated (15th or 16th century), Central Tibet, Tsang atelier, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Alternatively, instead of leaning against one hand he holds a skull cup in it, and raises the other. The above sits on the skin of an antelope with twisted horns. His eyes are inlaid with silver, his hair fastened in a thick top knot and embellished with a floral tiara.

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