Kashmir, female entities

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, female deity (labelled ‘Na Ga Raja’), bronze, private collection, photo on Nagel .

This is the third work of this type we see. The other two published here represent Vajradharma Lokeshvara and a male deity with a lasso in the very same style. This time the throne is supported by a garuda and there was very probably a stupa at the top of the mandorla. An inscription on the base reads ‘lha na ga ra’. If she is a naga deity, what looks like a nimbus must be a naga hood. She holds a conch shell in her left hand.

11th-12th century, Kashmir, probably Prajnaparamita, bronze, private collection, photo by Hardt Auctions

Prajnaparamita in her four-arm form, holding a vajra sceptre and a manuscript in her upper hands, the lower right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity, the other holds the stem of a lotus.

11th century, Kashmir, female aspect of Vajrasattva, silver with gold inlay, private collection, photo on Tenzing Asian Art.

Likely to be from the same workshop as a silver Vajraraksha attributed to Western Tibet (see here ) this female entity looks like Vajralasya, one of the offering goddesses from the Vairocana mandala (at Tabo, for instance), whose main attribute is a five-prong vajra sceptre.

12th-13th century, Kashmir, Prajnaparamita, bronze (gilding added at a later date), private collection, published by Christian Luczanits.

Prajnaparamita in a rare six-hand form, the main hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, the upper hands holding a rosary and what the author identifies as a triple gem (triratna). The lower right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity, the left one holds a lotus that supports her main attribute, a manuscript. Her eyes are inlaid with silver and the oblong urna on her forehead with copper. The lotus base with overlapping hoof-shaped petals is supported by a throne made of scrolling vines and flowers.

The two-piece mandorla is made of plain metal with curly flames supporting a gem all along the edge. We saw a similar one on a sculpture published by the same author (see below for comparison).

12th-13th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara.

 

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Kashmir, Prajnaparamita (2)

9th-10th century, Kashmir, Prajnaparamita, brass with silver inlay, at the British Museum in London (UK).

9th-10th century, Kashmir, Prajnaparamita, brass with silver inlay, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Prajnaparamita is seated on a throne supported by two lions and a yaksha, a standing figure (attendant or donor) attached to the base, her hands held in the dharmacakra mudra. The lotuses on each side of her support the prajnaparamita sutra (which she embodies) to her left and another object on the other side, possibly a  shell. She is adorned with a tall three-leaf crown, heavy jewellery, a celestial scarf. The flaming halo is topped with a (broken) finial and banners.

Kashmir, Green Tara (2)

8th century, Kashmir, Tara, brass, at the Ontario Museum of Art.

8th century, Kashmir, Tara, brass, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

Tara is seated with one foot resting on a large lotus flower, on a double-lotus base and plain plinth. She has a broad forehead and soft facial features, perfect body proportions and a diamond-shaped navel typical of Kashmiri sculptures. She holds the stem of Indian Pala-style lotus flowers and buds in each hand. There is an effigy of Akshobhya in her headdress.  She is adorned with a necklace, a sacred cord, a flat, pleated celestial scarf. Her calf-length dhoti is held in place with a beaded belt whose (lotus) clasp matches the pendant on her necklace.

Kashmir, Prajnaparamita

10th-11th century, Kashmir or Western Tibet, Prajnaparamita, copper alloy with silver inlay, photo by Christie's.

10th-11th century, Kashmir or Western Tibet, Prajnaparamita, copper alloy with silver inlay, photo by Christie’s.

Mother of all buddhas, Prajnaparamita has one face and four arms. Her main hands are doing the vitarka and dhyana mudras, the upper right hand holds a manuscript or sutra and the upper left hand holds a thunderbolt or vajra. She sits on a Kashmir-style plinth, with her legs in the vajra position, commonly but erroneously (mea culpa) described as the lotus position (see on the enlightening Himalayan Art Resources website under “Glossary” the article “Caution words and sensitive subjects”).

10th-11th c., Kashmir or WT, Prajnaparamita face

Her broad harmonious facial features and her pointed crown with bows and rosettes are reminiscent of West Tibetan works. Her eyes are inlaid with silver and her thin eyebrows meet in the centre, in the Kashmiri fashion. She is adorned with  lotus earrings, a necklace with a large pendant, armbands, bracelets, a sacred cord.

10th-11th c., Kashmir or WT, Prajnaparamita, base

She wears an ankle-length dhoti deeply engraved in the Guge fashion.

10th-11th c., Kashmir or WT, Prajnaparamita, waist

and a broad sash across her chest, above her Kashmiri-style lobed abdomen with a cruciform navel.

This could well be the work of a Kashmiri artist in Western Tibet (or for worship in Western Tibet).

Kashmir, Green Tara

10th century circa, Kashmir, bodhisattva Tara, brass, at the Alain Bordier Foundation.

10th century circa, Kashmir, bodhisattva Tara, brass with silver-inlaid eyes, at the Alain Bordier Foundation.

This sculpture of Green Tara is immediately recognisable as the work of a Kashmiri artist thanks to a series of elements: the shape of the plinth, with a kneeling character, probably the donor, at the base. The lotus pedestal and cushion. The facial features, especially the wide open silver-inlaid almond shaped eyes. The tight-fitting garment with the lower part that reveals a lobed abdomen. All of this, in conjunction with the use of brass and silver-inlaid eyes and the shape of the mandorla behind her. This particular sculpture has a striking diamond-shape silver-inlaid urna and shows traces of cold gold on her face and blue pigment on her hair, indicating worship in Tibet at some stage.

On paintings Tara can be green or white, sometimes red or yellow (wrathful form). With sculptures, the green form of Tara sits with one leg down and the other folded.