Kashmir, two rare sculptures (2)

10th–11th century, Kashmir, Vighnantaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Depicted as an attendant in early Indian art, Vighnantaka would typically have 1 head with three eyes, 2, or 4 hands, 2 legs treading on the elephant-headed Ganapati. The above is portrayed as a main deity, seated on Ganapati, himself on the back of a prostrated snow lion, all three on a lotus base with a kneeling figure on each side, over a stepped plinth decorated with vases and lotuses.

He has eight hands in which he holds various attributes including an axe and a bell, a sword and a lasso, a vajra and a staff made with a limb.

.

There is an effigy of an emaciated buddha at the top of the halo.

11th century, Kashmir, unknown deity, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This unidentified deity holds a vajra-tipped sword and a shield, an attribute normally associated with Kalachakra. The column to his left and the wrenched base indicate that this was part of a larger composition and that this is an attendant to a main deity. Bonhams suggest that this may be Vighnantaka due to a ressemblance with a sculpture at the Potala, A third eye and the presence of Ganapati would have helped confirm this. Vighnantaka’s usual attributes are a vajra and a lasso.

Advertisements

Kashmir, two rare sculptures

10th century, Kashmir or Northern India, Trailokyavijaya, labelled Humkara, brass, cold gold, pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

10th century, Kashmir, Utpala dynasty, unidentified, brass, cold gold, pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This wrathful deity with three heads and 22 hands stands on a flat lotus over a pedestal supported by three lions, adorned with a foliate garland and princely jewellery, his faces painted with cold gold and pigments, his hair dyed with lapis lazuli powder. The main head is peaceful, the one to his left is wrathful, the other semi-wrathful. On the Himalayan Art Resources website he appears under ‘Humkara’, who normally has one head and two or four hands.

10th-c-kashmir-or-n-india-humkara-gilt-c-a-pig-255-cm-upper-hands-gtsug-lakhang

10th-c-kashmir-or-n-india-humkara-gilt-c-a-pig-255-cm-lower-hands-gtsug-lakhang

The three heads have an effigy of a buddha on a crescent moon and there is another on top of the chignon. The main hands are held in a gesture sometimes referred to as the vajrahumkara mudra although it corresponds in fact to the bhutadamara mudra, associated mainly with a four-arm form of wrathful Vajrapani, but with the foregingers erect, a gesture specific to Humkara. To complicate matters further there is a third mudra also called vajrahumkara mudra but with the palms inwards. The top hands hold, behind the head, a buddha seated on a lotus throne, the other hands hold various attributes which seem to be two discs, a thunderbolt, two knives, a bell, two swords, a manuscript, two nooses, a pot of water , a lotus flower, a rosary, an elephant goad, an axe.

10th-c-kashmir-or-n-india-humkara-gilt-c-a-pig-255-cm-back-gtsug-lakhang

The deity wears an animal skin (probably tiger) around the waist and stands on two victims.

11th century, Kashmir or Western Tibet, Kalachakra and Vishvamata, brass, at the Newark Museum (USA).

11th century, Kashmir or Western Tibet, Kalachakra and Vishvamata, brass, at the Newark Museum (USA).

Kalachakra, with four heads topped with a visvajra (double thunderbolt) and 24 hands in which he holds various implements, embraces his consort, Vishvamata. They normally stand on two victims but on this occasion they are seated on a throne with a serrated halo topped with an upright vajra.

 

A quintet from Kashmir

10th century circa, Kashmir, Utpala Dynasty, Tara, Maitreya, Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara, Tara?, brass, is or was in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

10th century circa, Kashmir, Utpala Dynasty, Tara, Maitreya, Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara, Tara?, brass, is or was in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The figures stand on a lotus,  on a plain plinth with an inscription at the front, each accompanied by a kneeling attendant. Except for the historical buddha, who has a complete mandorla behin him, they have flaming halos are attached to their shoulders and secured with rods between them. Following the tradition in Lhasa, where the sculpture was worshipped, the faces have been painted with cold gold and the hair dyed with lapis lazuli powder.

 

Kashmir, a 12-arm Chakrasamvara

9th-10th century, Kashmir, meditational deity Chakrasamvara, brass, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

9th-10th century, Kashmir, Chakrasamvara, brass, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This meditational deity, also known as Heruka (a semi-wrathful guardian of the faith) is represented in his 12-arm form. He has four heads, each with three eyes and four fangs, 2 legs, and 12 hands. Ten of them are holding various attributes such as a drum, knife, skull cup, axe, thunderbolt, bell, chopper, trident, lasso, sword, the other two hold the skin of an elephant stretched behind him like a cloak. He stands on two deities (Bhairava and Kalaratri), and his wearing a skull crown, a garland of 50 freshly severed heads, a tiger skin loincloth, and bone jewellery. For more information on the significance of each attribute see the Himalayan Art Resources website (link in left-hand column of this page) and <www.khandro.net>, amongst others.

The facial features of the characters and the lobed abdomen of Chakrasamvara are typical of Kashmiri works, along with the use of brass. The lotus base over a rocky formation supported by a plinth is quite singular.

Kashmir, 7-planet group

10th-11th century, Kashmir, Seven planets, bronze, at the British Museum (London).

10th-11th century, Kashmir, the seven planets, bronze, at the British Museum (London).

The  plinth and the body swerve and dhoti of the central figure are typical of some Kashmiri sculptures produced around the 10th century (Utpala dynasty). The oversized heads and large round eyes indicate that these are not buddhas or bodhisattvas but the seven major planets of our solar system, apart from the Earth.They  are all adorned with large hoops and a necklace, and hold attributes now difficult to identify. Their hair is gathered into a chignon except for a few long strands that fall loosely over their shoulder and held in place with a diadem.

Kashmir, a triad (2)

7th century, Kashmir, historical buddha Shakyamuni and bodhisattvas, bronze with silver inlaid eyes and urna, private collection, published by Rossi&Rossi

7th century, Kashmir, historical buddha Shakyamuni and bodhisattvas on throne, bronze with silver inlaid eyes and urna, private collection, published by Rossi&Rossi.

Not often do we get a chance to see such an old sculpture complete with its back panel. Here the buddha is flanked by Avalokiteshvara Padmapani (holding a long-stemmed lotus) to his left, and Maitreya (holding a water pot) to his right. He is sitting on a cushion, over a  lion throne supported by a yaksha (sort of giant). His pleated garment with concentric folds covers one shoulder and arm, the tail end is arranged into a semi-circular shape in front of him. Behind the smaller figures we can see two columns with a halo of thick beading topped with a sun and moon. The central part of the back panel is shaped rather like a key-hole and the halo is decorated with half a lotus flower, above the head of the buddha, and some spiky flames which are sculpted rather than incised.