Himachal Pradesh, Gumrang

The following painted clay sculptures are at the Gumrang temple in Himachal Pradesh. Unlike those we have seen so far, only a few remain, they have not been renovated and are not in their original place. The photos are from the Western Himalaya Archive Vienna website https://whav.aussereurop.univie.ac.at

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, Vairocana, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

Vairocana with four heads, probably the central image of the original composition.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, Amitabha, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.Amitabha, with a red body, both hands would have been over his lap in the meditation gesture.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, Ratnasambhava, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

Ratnasambhava, his right hand palm out, his left hand over his lap, the fingers raised as if to hold a gem (normally in the right hand).

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, Akshobhya, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

Ashobhya, with a blue body, his left hand in the meditation gesture, his right hand would have (symbolically) touched the ground.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, red goddess, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, yellow goddess, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, (red) goddess, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1991.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, goddess, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.Possibly the four goddesses that accompanied the four wisdom buddhas seated next to Mahavairocana.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, standing bodhisattva, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, standing bodhisattva, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1991.

Undated (circa 11th century), Gumrang, buddha, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

Possibly the historical buddha, wearing a patched robe that covers the left shoulder only.

Advertisements

Himachal Pradesh, Ribba

The following painted clay sculptures are at the Translator’s Temple in Ribba, Himachal Pradesh. Various dates have been given for the construction of the building itself (9th-11th century), which still has a large amount of wood carvings, many of them original. No dating has been given for the clays sculptures. The photos are from the Western Himalaya Archive Vienna website WHAV

Undated, Ribba, gatekeeper, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

The red gatekeeper clad in a tiger skin loin cloth and wielding a skull-tipped club is Hayagriva, who should have a horse’s head in his headdress. The execution of the face is somewhat crude compared with others seen in recent posts. He is adorned with a five-skull crown with rosettes, floral earrings, snakes and princely jewellery painted on his body.

Undated, Ribba, gatekeeper, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

On the other side, Vajrapani, with a dark blue body, wielding a vajra sceptre.

Undated, Ribba, Green Tara, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

Green Tara, with a leg pendent, her hands displaying supreme generosity and reassurance. The design of her crown and jewellery is very similar to those worn by some bodhisattvas at  the Tabo monastery but her facial features are different and her lower garment is held in place with a contrasting cloth belt.

Undated, Ribba, goddess (labelled White Tara), painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994 WHAV.

Possibly one of the offering goddesses in a mandala, this female entity is seated at royal ease and doesn’t seem to have a third eye on her forehead or any eyes incised in the palm of her hands.

Undated, Ribba, vajrabodhisattva, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.This is probably Vajratejas, who normally holds a disc. He wears a similar crown, belt and dhoti as the previous statue, plus a shawl that covers his shoulders in the Chinese fashion.

Undated, Ribba, (Manjushri), painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1993.

An archaic form of Manjushri, seated with his legs locked and wielding a sword with the right hand while holding a book horizontally in the other. The yellow body corresponds to his Sthiracakra Bhavana aspect.

Undated, Ribba, (Avalokiteshvara), painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

Shadakshari Lokeshvara, his main hands before his chest to (symbolically) hold a wish-granting jewel, the others holding a rosary and a lotus.

Undated (circa 18th century?), Ribba, (Amitabha), painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

This more recent sculpture depicts Amitabha, with a red body, both hands in the meditation gesture to support a bowl, his prominent chignon topped with a lotus bud, his lower garment worn high up his waist, his upper garment covering both shoulders but leaving the right arm free.

Undated (circa 18th century?), Ribba, (Padmasambhava), painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

The unmistakable Padmasambhava, holding a vajra sceptre and a skull cup, his ritual staff propped against the left shoulder.

Himachal Pradesh, Tabo (5)

The following sculptures at the cella of the main temple at the Tabo monastery complex, followed by one item from the Maitreya temple. The photos are published on the Western Himalaya Archive Vienna website at  https://whav.aussereurop.univie.ac.at

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, cella, overall view, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

The central statue in the sanctum is one of Amitabha/Amitayus, with a red body and both hands in the meditation gesture. Because he is seated on a lion throne, normally used for Vairocana or Shakyamuni, some scholars have argued that the original image probably depicted Shakyamuni. Could it be Shakyamuni represented as Amitabha? At any rate, he has a prominent chignon/ushnisha topped with a lotus bud proper to a buddha, mixed with long strands of plaited hair and princely jewellery, including armbands worn high up, seen on bodhisattvas.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, cella, detail, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits.

Above him, various figures among the vines, including this dancing one dressed with a colourful knee-length dhoti.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, cella, Avalokiteshvara, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

On one side of him is Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form (the lotus no longer in his left hand), expressing supreme generosity with his right hand. His hairstyle is very much the same but the jewellery is different.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, cella, bodhisattva, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

On the other side, Vajrapani according to some, Mahasthamaprapta according to others. The latter, generally absent from Tibetan and Nepalese art,  is usually depicted with Amitabha and Avalokiteshvara, which would confirm that the main image is the original one (see Dilwar Ram in Monastic art along the Western Himalayan trade routes – Gonpas and Lakhans, Himachal Pradesh University, chapter 4, on  http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/121050/12/12_chapter%204.pdf).

We will note, however, that the way he holds his hands corresponds to Vajrapani.

11th century, Tabo, Byamspa Lakhang, west wall, Maitreya, painted clay, photo by Helmut Tauscher.

In another temple, Maitreya as the buddha of the future, his hands symbolically turning the wheel of dharma .

 

Himachal Pradesh, Tabo (4)

These clay sculptures are on the north wall of the main temple at Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, and the photos are from the Western Himalaya Archive Vienna website  https://whav.aussereurop.univie.ac.at

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajradharma, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajratikshna, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Vajradharma, a form of Avalokiteshvara who plucks the petals a lotus with his right hand, and Vajratikshna, who brandishes a sword in his right hand, are two of the bodhisattvas who accompany Amitabha.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Amitabha, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Amitabha/Amitayus, easily identified through his red body and the way he has both hands in the meditation gesture.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajrahetu, painted clay, largely repaired, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajrabhasa, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

The other two are Vajrahetu, who normally holds a wheel with one or both hands, and Vajrabhasa, who normally has his right hand before his chest while the other is placed against his hip.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajrakarma, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajraraksha, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

Vajrakarma, who would have held a visvajra in his right hand while placing his left hand against his hip, and Vajraraksha, who normally holds a coat of mail before him, accompany Amoghasiddhi.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Amoghasiddhi, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Amoghasiddhi, who normally has a green body, does the fear-allaying gesture with his right hand and the meditation gesture with the left one.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajrayaksha, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, north wall, Vajrasandhi, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

Also accompanying Amoghasiddhi are Vajrayaksha, who has a blue body and holds his fangs at waist level, he normally has a fierce expression, and Vajrasandhi, who normally has a golden or yellow body and may hold a vajra sceptre (although here he could have held a visvajra).

As with other similar sites, sometimes the gestures and/or the body colour of the characters in the mandala don’t correspond to the standard iconography.

 

 

Himachal Pradesh, Tabo (3)

These clay sculptures are in the main temple at Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, and the photos are from the Western Himalaya Archive Vienna website  https://whav.aussereurop.univie.ac.at

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, west wall, Vajramala, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Vajramala or mala, with a red body, normally holds a garland.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, west wall, Vajrapushpa, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Vajrapushpa or Pushpa’s attribute would have been an incense bowl.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, west wall, Vajrapasha, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

This guardian deity always holds a noose (pasha).

Part of his hair is arranged in a very ornate top knot fastened with a pearly hair clip that matches his necklace.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, west wall, Vajrasphota, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

On the other side of the passage, is Vajrasphota, crouching. His attribute is a diamond chain (sphota).

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, west wall, Vajraloka and Vajragita, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Next to him, Vajraloka or Aloka, who would hold a lamp, and Vajragita or Gita, who plays the vina.

11th century, Tabo, passage from the cella, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Seen from the cella, the four-fold Vairocana opposite the entrance, and the passage to the cella, with a standing bodhisattva on each side.

11th century, Tabo, passage from the cella, Akashagarbha, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

One of them, over 2m20 in height and with distinctive Kashmiri features, has been identified as Akashagarbha, who may do the teaching gesture with both hands.

11th century, Tabo, passage from the cella, Kshitigarbha, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

The other, with distinctive Himachal Pradesh features, is Kshitigarbha, his twin brother, doing the teaching gesture with the right hand and the gesture of generosity with the other.

 

Himachal Pradesh, Tabo (2)

These clay sculptures are along the south wall of the main temple at Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, and the photos are from the Western Himalaya Archive Vienna website  https://whav.aussereurop.univie.ac.at

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Vajrasattva and Vajraraja, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Vajrasattva, who always holds a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell,  and Vajraraja, whose attribute would have been an elephant goad, accompany Akshobhya.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Akshobhya, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Akshobhya, with a blue body and his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other hand against his hip instead of over his lap.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Vajraraga, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

The other two vajra bodhisattvas associated with Akshobhya are Vajraraga, who has a red body and shoots an arrow…

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Vajrasadhu, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

… and Vajrasadhu, also known as Vajravajas, who holds both hands clenched before his chest and may hold a vajra sceptre.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Vajraratna, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Vajratejas, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Vajraratna, who has a red body and holds a gem, and Vajratejas, who may hold a disc, are two of the four bodhisattvas who accompany Ratnasambhava.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Ratnasambhava, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Ratnasambhava, with a yellow body and his right hand held palm out, the other placed on his lap in the meditation gesture as usual.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Vajraketu, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, south wall, Vajrahasa, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

The other two figures who accompany him are Vajraketu, with a blue body, described in some texts as holding a sword or a banner although the above has a vajra sceptre pointing to his heart, and Vajrahasa, with a white body, who usually laughs.

11th century, Tabo, Dukhang, overview of south wall and part of east wall, photo by Peter van Ham on nybooks.com https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2015/02/25/inside-forbidden-temple-tabo/.

Himachal Pradesh, Tabo (1)

The following clay sculptures are at the main temple of the Tabo monastery complex, in Himachal Pradesh. Unless otherwise stated, the photos are published on the Western Himalaya Archive Vienna website on https://whav.aussereurop.univie.ac.at

11th century, Tabo, Dukhang, overview of north wall, photo by Peter van Ham on nybooks.com https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2015/02/25/inside-forbidden-temple-tabo/.

The assembly hall (dukhang) houses a four-fold Vairocana placed on the floor and 32 deities seated on lotuses cleverly fastened to the wall. These deities are four gatekeepers, the other four wisdom buddhas, the sixteen vajra bodhisattvas and the eight goddesses who accompany them in the Vajradhatu mandala.

11th century, Tabo, Dukhang, Vairocana, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Each of Vairocana’s body faces a different direction. There is a stupa and Kirtimukha above the heads.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, east wall, Vajrankusa, painted clay, photo by C. Luczanits, 1994.

Vajrankusa is one of the two deities who guard the entrance to the assembly hall. He wears a five-skull crown, a tiger skin loin cloth, and would normally hold an elephant goad or hook (ankusa), which in this case may have been painted on the halo behind him.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, east wall, Vajradhupa, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, east wall, Vajralasya, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

Next to him, two seated goddesses with a white body: Vajradhupa or Dhupa, whose attribute is an incense bowl, and Vajralasya or Lasya, who may hold a five-prong vajra sceptre.

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, east wall, Vajravesa, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

On the other side of the entrance, Vajravesa, also known as Vajraghanta, who normally holds a vajra bell (ghanta).

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, east wall, Vajragandha, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, 1994.

Next to him two seated goddesses with a blue body: Vajragandha or Gandha, whose attribute is a conch…

11th century, Tabo, dukhang, east wall, Vajranrtya, painted clay, photo by Jaroslav Poncar.

… and Vajranrtya or Nrtya, who may hold a three-prong vajra sceptre and is usually depicted with her right arm in a dancing pose.

Tabo, dukhang, plan, publised by Eva Lee on http://www.evaleestudio.com/2013/11/02/tabo-monastery-vajradhatu-mandala-splendor/