Himachal Pradesh, Vajravarahi

11th-12th century, Himachal Pradesh, Marichi Vajravarahi, (painted clay on a wooden armature?), photo onbiblio , from Himalayan Art, 1968, by Madanjeet Singh, p. 109.

Statues inside Gemur Gompa’s Dukhang, Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh, photo on Wanderings in Lahaul 

The Gemur Tibetan Buddhist monastery houses this spectacular statue of Vajravarahi. The sow’s head sticking out of her right temple is her distinctive feature. She stands on one foot like a dakini, naked, brandishing a flaying knife in her right hand and holding a skull cup before her heart. She has a third eye and is adorned with a five-skull crown and bone jewellery. According to the Himachal Tourism Office , she is locally known as ‘Marichi Vajravarahi, as an embodiment of dawn’. Marichi, the goddess of dawn, is a separate entity who holds a needle and thread (in her two-arm form) but a paragraph in Buddhist Art and Antiquities of Himachal Pradesh by O.C. Handa says ‘On the other hand, we learn from the sadhanamalatantra – a compendious tantric Buddhist work – that the tantric Buddhist deity Marichi Vajravarahi should have in her hands: vajrankushashara-suchidhari-dakshinakaram, i.e. the goddess who holds in her three right hands a vajra, a goad, an arrow besides the fourth one in suchi mudra‘. So there is a form of Vajravarahi related to Marichi, but she has eight arms and, therefore, probably three heads (like some forms of Marichi). Why the above should be called Marichi Vajravarahi remains a mystery…

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