Tibet, standing female characters

Undated, Tibet (or Nepal?), standing female, bronze with cold gold, pigments, turquoise, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Very similar in style to a Transitional Period Nepalese Tara worshipped in Tibet and published in a previous post, this female character seems to have held a couple of attributes in her hand. Her hair is divided in two coils visible behind the large front panel of her tiara.

Undated, Tibet, standing female, bronze with cold gold, pigments, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Probably from the same period, a similar figure with both hands clasped against her heart in a gesture of salutation, or perhaps to hold a jewel.

12th-14th century, Western Tibet, female deity, brass, is or was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

Clearly made in Western Tibet, this intriguing personage holds a couple of attributes.

A water pot in the right hand, a disc or mirror in the other.

14th century, Tibet, female, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

This small character with a floral crown and a long garment incised with a large floral pattern holds a skull cup in her left hand and a grain or pearl in the other, between forefinger and thumb.

14th-15th century, Central Tibet, Densatil, offering goddesses, from a frieze, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Four deities with one head and four hands each, in a dancing pose, the first from the left of the viewer holds a flaming jewel and a drum in her right hands, a skull cup and a missing object in the others; the next one has a bowl and a drum in her right hands, a grain or a pearl and another bowl in her left hands; the following one has a jewelled scarf in her main hands, a drum and a skull cup in the others; the last one holds a drum and what could be a mirror, one hand is severed, the other has lost its attribute.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Yeshe Tsogyal, metal (brass), private collection, published in Sattvas & Ratjas The Culture and Art of Tibetan Buddhism, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

17th century, Tibet, Yeshe Tsogyal, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Allegedly the consort of King Trisong Detsen before becoming Padmasambhava’s, Yeshe Tsogyal is regarded as a buddha, and an emanation of Vajrayogini and Tara or Sarasvati. She may hold a skull cup; on these two examples she holds a vase in one hand and does the fear-allaying gesture with the other.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze with copper and silver inlay, pigments, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

White Tara, standing on a Pala-style pedestal, her right hand extended, the other holding the stem of a lotus, her garment inlaid with copper and silver roundels to imitate the original Indian Pala art, her face with three eyes, painted with cold gold and pigments.

Undated, Tibet, female donor, gilt bronze with cold gold, pigments, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

It is not clear what this donor holds in both hands, perhaps a conch shell?

 

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Tibet, Green Tara (14)

13th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper , is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

This elegant figure with Pala-style shapes and proportions sits on a brocaded cushion over a double lotus base.

She wears a broad sash across her chest and a long garment decorated with alternate bands of flowers and geometrical motifs. A lotus inside a diamond is incised in the palm of her hands.

The face is painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair with lapis lazuli powder.

13th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Here she wears no sash and her garment is decorated with bands of stippled lotuses.

15th century, Tibet, Green Tara of the Sandalwood Forest, bronze (brass), at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

As with Pala Indian works, the above has silver-inlaid eyes and urna and wears a low tiara. A hair ornament adorns her chignon.

15th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The short legs and oval chin are reminiscent of a group of gilt copper Nepalese works made during the Malla period. A celestial scarf cleverly forms a halo that offsets her low tiara made of five jewelled panels and a silver beaded rim. All her jewellery is made of two rows of beading and stone-inlaid elements. The hem of her garment is also decorated with beading.

Undated (15th-16th century?), Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise inlay, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi (India), photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Different facial features but same leg proportions, garment with a beaded hem and accessories with beading and stones (only turquoise this time).  Apart from the usual cold gold and pigments for the face and hair, red paint has been used for the rim of her crown.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Tibetan art excels at marrying the Newari style and techniques with Chinese-style draping and accessories …

while adding its own specific features, such as the  squarish face and the use of coral and turquoise cabochons.

16th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This Tara’s elongated chignon is topped with the flame of enlightenment.

 

Tibet, Green Tara (13)

14th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A Nepalese-style sculpture with several interesting features:

There is a large embossed flower in the palm of her hands; she wears a long garment decorated with a variety of motifs (chased geometrical shapes and rice grain patterns, stippled lotuses); the festoons on her belt are engraved rather than sculpted. (The blue paint and beading on her hair have obviously been added at a later date).

14th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Here the artist has used an interesting mixture of clear gems and hard stones, including a pear-shaped lapis lazuli cabochon on the central panel of her small floral crown and a large round clear jewel for the finial on her chignon matched by the gems on her armbands. Her garment is decorated with a few engraved stripes.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The low crown with foliate panels wide apart (a design borrowed from Chinese art) allows the viewer to fully appreciate the effigy of Amitabha on top of this Tara’s chignon. She is framed by two large stems, each with a fully open lotus and several buds.

Her garment is decorated with alternate bands of flowers and scrolling vines.

14th century, Central Tibet, Tara and attendants, silver with copper alloy, copper, gold, gilt copper and silver, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

Green Tara is accompanied by Maitreya to her right, identified by the pot of water on the lotus next to him, and Avalokiteshvara on the other side, seated at royal ease and holding a lotus.

Below them, White Tara in the centre and young nagas climbing the pedestal, looking like cherubs with a serpentine tail and a hood made of five cobra snakes.

A complex mixture of metal inlay has been used to decorate her accessories and clothing.

16th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (brass) with silver inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Tibet, White Tara (7)

13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze with paint and turquoise, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Following the Tibetan custom, this Pala-style White Tara has her face painted with cold gold and pigments and her hair dyed blue. Cold gold has also been used for the crown, its ribbons and rosettes, and her earrings.

14th century, Tibet, Tara with 20 emanations and a monk, stone and pigments, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

The figures on the bottom row of this stele all have a leg pendent like Green Tara, except for the monk (or perhaps lama) in the right hand corner. Above them, the figures at each end also sit with one leg unfolded, the others are like White Tara.

16th century, Central Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Polyauction.

When seated, White Tara always has her legs locked. She has three eyes, inlaid with silver on this masterpiece.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with gems, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

In most cases, her right hand is extended palm out to indicate supreme generosity and her left hand displays a gesture to offer refuge.

18th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

 

Tibet, Green Tara (12)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

A Tibetan-style Green Tara, with a leg pendent but no lotus under her foot, an original utpala to her right and a fully open lotus to her left, her hands doing the gesture of supreme generosity and bestowing refuge, adorned with an unusual crown and foliate jewellery.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

Another original work with an unusual crown and blue lotus design, her right foot placed on a lotus bud, seemingly of the utpala variety.

Circa 13th century (or later?), Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

A mixed-style figure with a thin body, an effigy of Amitabha in her headdress, a large lotus flower under her right foot, an incised garment and incised accessories and hair, sitting on a Pala-style base with a stepped plinth with very large beading at the bottom, a design typical of the area and period, except for the shape of the petals often see on 18th century works.

13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze with silver inlay, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

One of a series of well-proportioned Pala-style Green Taras with her left foot over the right thigh and her hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma’.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Renaud Montméat.

The rods to secure the panels of her crown and the way the two lotuses frame the subject point to the 13th or 14th century. Here the blue lotus/utpala is to her left.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper with stones, Newari artist, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

As we have seen before, most early Nepalese works are made of copper rather than copper alloy, and it was the Newars who introduced fire gilding and stone inlay to Tibet. They preferred clear gems while Tibetan patrons favoured hard stones such as turquoise and lapis lazuli, and coral. Both lotuses here are of the blue variety.

14th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with paint and stones (most of them missing), at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

And here both lotuses are fully open. Her chignon and unusual red finial look as if they may have been refreshed with paint at a later date.

She has a tiny square urna on her forehead and a Kirtimukha design on the front panel of her crown.

Tibet, various dakinis (2)

15th century, Tibet or Nepal, dakini, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with silver and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Polyauction.

This dakini with reddish hair holds a skull cup and another object difficult to identify from the photo (perhaps a tortoise, which would point to Vetali?).

17th century, Tibet, Sphotadakini (or Pasha?), gilt bronze (copper alloy) and paint, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This youthful female with three eyes, bared fangs and  long red hair has a yellow/gold body and holds a snare, which matches the description of Pasha, one of four directional gatekeepers on some mandalas. Sphota has a red body and holds a chain, Ankusa has a white body and holds a hook, Ghanta has a green body and holds a bell.

17th century, Tibet, Kurukulla, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with paint, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Kurukulla in her four-hand form, standing with one foot on a victim and holding a bow and an arrow, an elephant goad and a lotus. She has an effigy of Amitabha in her headdress and wears a mixture of peaceful and wrathful ornaments, including a garland of severed heads and a bone apron.

Early 16th century, Tibet, Kurukulla, zitan wood (red sandalwood) with gilding, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

We have only seen one Tibetan sculpture of her with a skull cup in her left hand, which included a bow, an arrow and a drum in the other hands.

18th century, Tibet, Simhamukha (labelled Simhavaktra), bronze with cold gold and paint, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Simhamukha stands on a lotus base atop a throne supported by two lions and a yaksha, accompanied by two attendants. She crushes a victim with her left foot and holds a flaying knife, a skull cup and a ritual staff. She has a tiger or leopard skin around her waist, a human hide across her back, and wears a garland of severed heads and a skull tiara. Her attendants are tiger-faced dakini Vyagravaktra and bear-faced dakini Rikshavaktra (who also accompany Simhavaktra, who has the same form as Simhamukha but smaller since she is an attendant, and who doesn’t wear a skull crown and usually stands on both feet, to lead Palden Lhamo’s mount).

Tibet, Shri Devi (6)

Shri Devi, of Hindu origin, refers to various female entities in their wrathful form, including the four-handed Palden Lhamo, Patron of Lhasa and protectress of Tibet, and the two-handed Magzor Gyalmo.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Magzor Gyalmo (labelled Palden Lhamo), gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Drouot.

A wrathful form of Sarasvati, Magzor Gyalmo has a blue body, one head with three eyes, two hands, in which she holds a skull cup and a sandalwood staff (missing here), a sun disc over her navel and a crescent moon in her flaming hair, and she chews a body. Like Palden Lhamo, she rides a mule or a kiang sideways, using the hide of hear dead son as a saddle, across a sea of blood and is adorned with a skull crown, garland of severed heads, bone jewellery…

18th century, Tibet, Magzor Gyalmo, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Renaud Montméat.

and may have five magical weapons including a tally stick incised with a geometrical pattern fastened or tucked into her belt.

18th century, Tibet, Magzor Gyalmo, (labelled Yama), gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The crescent moon in her headdress is sometimes topped with a triple gem.

Apart from the tally stick, her magical weapons are a pair of divination dice, a bundle of red curses, a bag of disease, a ball of variegated thread, suspended from poisonous serpents that adorn the saddle of her mule.