Pala India, Vajrapani (2)

11th century, Northeast India, Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Peaceful Vajrapani stands on a small lotus base over a tortoise pedestal engraved with a foliate motif, surrounded by a halo of serrated flames and framed by tall lotuses – one of which supports a vajra-handled bell (ghanta). He holds his other attribute, the vajra, upright at heart level. Gilt sculptures are not typical of Pala  art The cold gold and pigments on the face and hair suggest that the statue was worshipped in Tibet at some stage.

11th century, Northeast India, Vajrapani, metal, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The stiff pose, the large central panel on the crown, the squarish face, the brassy metal and the treatment of the face recall works attributed to various western regions of the ancient Tibetan kingdom. Vajrapani holds both attributes in his hands while the lotuses form part of the back plate. Flames are engraved around the mandorla and the tortoise pedestal is decorated with incised geometrical motifs and two elephants at the front.

12th century, India, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This figure displays typical Pala elements such as the tiered conical chignon, the swerving torso and the small lotus pedestal, but also West Tibetan elements such as the dhoti shorter on one side, the sash sticking out rigidly at calf level, the morphological disproportion and the way the vajra is fastened to the hand.

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Pala India, Jambhala (2)

11th century, India, Bangladesh, Jambhala, bronze, at the Free Sackler Gallery in Washington DC (USA).

This is the peaceful aspect of Jambhala, known as Yellow Jambhala because his skin is yellow on paintings. The pot-bellied deity sits with his legs loosely folded and holds a mongoose to the left and a citron in his right palm held out in the gesture of generosity.

11th century, India, Jambhala, black stone, private collection, published by Xanadu gallery on http://www.asianart.com

His mongoose disgorges pearls or gems and his right foot often rests on a pot filled with gems. The above sits on a lotus base supported by a row of such containers. His tiara is very discreet in order to offset the tall conical headdress. Pala stone works often display great beauty in the face and harmonious body volumes. This is no exception.

12th century, Eastern India or Tibet, Jambhala, bronze with pigments, private collection, published on http://www.pindoles.com

 

Pala India, Shakyamuni (2)

10th-11th, India, Bihar, Kurkihar, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The historical buddha  may be depicted with a crown, in which case he often wears hoops and a necklace.

11th century, same as before, photo by Christie’s.

The Kurkihar style includes a tall crown with foliate triangular panels tightly fastened with ribbons. On both examples his robe covers one shoulder only.

11th century, same, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

When standing, his robe normally covers both shoulders. Here the head is surrounded by a halo fastened to his back. The arch behind him has sharply serrated flames and is decorated with turquoise inlay. He stands on a small double lotus pedestal over a stepped plinth with ‘tortoise legs’. The waist of his dhoti and his punched navel show through his transparent robe. The left hand holds a piece of this garment, the right hand displays the fear-allaying gesture.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

This brassy sculpture depicts  Shakyamuni in his usual buddha appearance and in a very different style: he has broad shoulders, an elongated torso, a very thin waist and a moon-like face with a broad nose that recalls Tibetan works. It may have been commissioned by a Tibetan patron.

 

 

 

Pala India, various female deities

10th century, Northeast India, Bihar, Vasudhara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The goddess of wealth is depicted here in her one-head and six-hand form, her upper right hand doing the gesture to accompany music, the one on the other side holding a manuscript. Her middle hands hold raining jewels and a sheaf of rice grain. There is a long-life vase in her lower left hand, the other does the gesture of knowledge. The artist has used silver-inlay for her urna and her longer necklace.

11th century, Northeast India, Vajratara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This form of Tara has four heads and eight hands holding various attributes including a vajra, a bow, an arrow, a lotus, a conch shell, a noose.

Her hair is pulled into a single chignon topped with a vajra finial.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Bengal, Tara, bronze, private collection, published on http://www.the-saleroom.com

This multi-armed (4 or 6?) form appears to hold a a club and a lotus in her upper hands, and a fruit or a gem in the lower right hand.

12th-13th century, Northeast India, Tara, copper alloy, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

White Tara, her legs locked in the vajra position, has three eyes on her face and eyes in the palm of her hands and the sole of her feet. She displays the gesture of supreme generosity with her right hand while bestowing refuge with the other. The stem of a (broken) lotus goes round her left arm and there was another lotus springing from the base to her right side.

 

 

Pala India, a few wrathful deities (2)

12th century, India, Achala, copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.pundoles.es

Half kneeling and half crouching, Achala wields a sword and holds a lasso that hovers over his shoulder. His eyes are inlaid with copper, his fangs with silver, his tall chignon is dyed with red pigment. His leopard skin loin cloth (incised with large circles) is held in place with a heavy belt decorated with a floral buckle.

11th century, Northern India, Hevajra, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Heruka Hevajra, who protects agains the demons (maras), is seen here in his one-head  version, with two hands and two legs, one of them resting on a victim, the other in the air with the knee resting on a lotus sprouting from the pedestal – an arrangement seen on Tibetan sculptures a few centuries later.

He holds a thunderbolt sceptre in his right hand, a bell (instead of the usual skull cup) in his left hand, and has a ritual staff propped against his left shoulder. His tightly-fitting leopard skin loin cloth is held in place with a festooned belt. He wears a garland of human heads.

12th century, Northern India, Hevajra, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

A similar iconography, with the left hand missing, the orange paint on his hair likely to be more recent. He is accompanied by two attendant female deities.

Undated, India, Hevajra, copper alloy, private collection, Holly Auctions on Himalayan Art Resources.

Pala India, Vajrapani

11th century circa, Northeast India, Vajrapani, copper alloy with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Standing on victims, Vajrapani holds a thunderbolt sceptre horizontally in his right hand and does a gesture to ward off evil with the other while holding a lotus that supports a fertility goddess. His hair is fastened with cobra snakes (nagas) and topped with an effigy of Akshobhya. He has copper-inlaid eyes, urna and accessories and is adorned with snakes.

12th century, India or Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Vajrapani holds the vajra almost vertically and extends his left hand to display a missing attribute, probably a vajra-handled bell (ghanta). He wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth, the head of the animal placed over the right knee.

He has silver-inlaid eyes. His fan-shaped hair is fastened with three nagas, his body is adorned with serpents, including a long one used as a sacred thread.

12th century, Northeast India or Western Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Another example with a tight-fitting animal skin (leopard in this case) with no legs or tail dangling. His left hand does a gesture to ward off evil and hold a (missing) lasso at the same time.

 

India, Shakyamuni steles

7th century, India, Bihar, Shakyamuni, stone, at the British Museum in London (UK).

7th century, India, Bihar, Shakyamuni, stone, at the British Museum in London (UK).

The historical buddha stands on a lotus, holding a piece of his garment in the left hand, the other displaying the gesture of supreme generosity, a small  figure kneeling next to him. His plain robe (in the Sarnath fashion) covers both shoulders and reveals an athletic body typical of the Gupta period.

10th-11th century, Eastern India, Shakyamuni, stone, private collection, photo by Christie's.

10th-11th century, Eastern India, Shakyamuni, stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this sculpture, there is a miniature elephant at his feet, a halo around his head, a stupa on each side. His legs are taller and he wears a robe with a multitude of concentric pleats.