This Guge-style sculpture with an athletic body, marked knee caps, a lobed abdomen and a cruciform navel, is very similar to a 1oth-11th century Avalokiteshvara attributed to Western Tibet or Ladakh by the Musée Guimet in Paris and published in a previous post (see below). Vajrapani holds an upright vajra in his right hand and may have had a bell in the other. He is adorned with a long foliate garland, beaded jewellery, sacred thread and matching belt, large floral earrings and a sash worn tightly across the chest. Long strands of hair dyed with blue pigment fall over his shoulders. His transparent dhoti, shorter on one side and with an incised hem, forms a sharp point at the front that almost reaches the pedestal. The eyes are inlaid with silver in the Kashmiri fashion.
Possibly part of a set, this solid-cast figure has the bonhomie of many 11th and 12th century West Tibetan sculptures vaguely inspired by the Indian Pala style. The hair is gathered in a three-tier chignon topped with a lotus bud finial, his low tiara with a single leaf panel is fastened with ribbons forming large bows on each side of the head. He holds an upright vajra in his right hand and a vajra-handled bell in the other at hip level. His knee-length garment, knotted at the back, is decorated with a stippled motif and thick beading on the hem.
Occasionally, this bodhisattva holds the stem of a lotus which supports the attribute and does a symbolic gesture with the other hand.
The tenth karmapa portrayed, in his own particular style, a dishevelled Vajrapani standing on twisted nagas (snakes) over a lotus on a rocky formation supported by two crouching figures.
This group of deities on lotuses is supported by four yakshas accompanied by a snow lion. Instead of being pot-bellied, naked and crouching the yakshas are depicted like atlantes and wear short dhotis. (For more information on yakshas see an article on the Ashmolean Museum website at http://jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/object/EA1995.95).
Manjushri, at the centre, brandishes his sword to cut through ignorance and holds the stem of an open lotus with a manuscript balancing on it.
To his left, Avalokiteshvara does the gesture of supreme generosity with his right hand and holds the stem of a similar eight-petal lotus, the skin of an antelope covers his left shoulder.
Vajrasattva holds a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) and a bell (ghanta) together with the stem of a blue lotus.
A similar triad, with the base missing. Manjushri’s book is supported by a blue lotus, Avalokiteshvara holds the neck of a ritual water pot in his right hand. Vajrapani’s main attribute is missing from his right hand.
On both sets, the blade of Manjushri’s sword is decorated with a geometrical pattern typical of sculptures produced in the Ngari area of Western Tibet around the 12th century.
Here Vajrasattva stands at the centre and Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara are depicted as attendants (smaller size).
NB: when standing, Vajrasattva and Vajrapani may have the same appearance and it is often impossible to know which is which unless an inscription on the base of the sculpture identifies the figure.
14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.
Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani (lotus bearer) form, with an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.
The bodhisattva of compassion is seated at royal ease (see the new section on leg poses added to the Hand Gestures page in the left-hand column of this blog), his right arm resting over the raised knee, the left arm placed on the lotus base. We can see the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder and an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, two attributes of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form. He may have held the stem of a lotus, now missing, in his left hand.
This Avalokiteshvara has no effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, no antelope skin, no lotus, and no crown, yet the Khasarpana form would have matted hair cascading and both hands doing the dharmacakra (turning the wheel of dharma) gesture. It may be that he has lost his crown or that this is a lesser known of the very many forms of this deity.
The rosary in his right hand and the lotus in the other identify this figure as Avalokiteshvara. The very creative 1oth karmapa has given him an unusual hairstyle sometimes seen on sculptures of Tara, which consists in gathering all the hair in a bunch worn on one side.
Maitreya is identified by the stupa in his headdress and the water pot in his left hand. He stands on a Kashmiri-style base, complete with its flaming mandorla, but several characteristics proper to Western Tibet, such as the stippled lotus motif on his dhoti, worn much longer on one side, the thick floral garland that reaches his ankles and the style of his jewellery, indicate that the piece was not made by a Kashmiri artist, who would have given him a cruciform navel instead of punched hole.
A richly gilt portrait of Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, seated at royal ease with a leg pendant, the foot resting on a lotus springing from the base, a stupa in his headdress, almost certainly made by a Newari artist from the Kathmandu Valley.
This is a more traditional image of the bodhisattva, seated in the vajra position with both hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ and holding the stem of lotuses, one of them supporting a ritual water pot. There is a stupa in his headdress. His Chinese silk garment is decorated with incisions.
On this rare image Maitreya’s chignon is topped with a vajra finial and his left hand rests over his knee while holding the stem of a plant that supports a ritual water pot. The right hand is dispelling fear.
Apart from the broken lotus which would have supported his waterpot, this is very much like a 15th century sculpture of Maitreya published in a previous post and attributed to a Tsang atelier (Central Tibet).
The eyes are inlaid with silver and there is a flaming jewel on top of his chignon.
This carbon-dated sculpture depicts Maitreya in his buddha appearance, wearing a red patched robe with a blue hem, the garment covering only one shoulder (normally the left one). His missing right hand displayed either the fear-allaying or the teaching gesture, the left hand appears to have been resting over the knee.
Such dark alloy images of Maitreya seated with both legs pendant and the feet resting on a lotus were particular popular in Tibet during the 14th century. The large red circle over his navel is a singular feature. His elongated waist, the shape of the head and face and the draping suggest that the work was made around the 17th century. His headdress is decorated with a stupa and some rosettes, there are traces of cold gold on the face and neck, his hands are ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, a gesture often displayed by Maitreya.
This Maitreya is dressed in a fine silk robe decorated with an incised motif and loosely gathered over his legs. As on the previous image, the right shoulder is covered but the arm is left free. He is easily identified by the stupa in his headdress.