Ladakh, a few bodhisattvas (2)

Circa 11th century, Ladakh, bodhisattva, bronze with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel sale 736 China 3 lot 141.

This dark copper alloy sculpture with silver-inlaid eyes depicts a bodhisattva standing on a single lotus supported by a plinth decorated with birds at the front. His right hand is in the gesture of generosity, the left one holds blue lotuses, one of them topped with what may be a ritual water pot. He wears a short dhoti decorated with a deeply incised motif and held in place with belt knotted at the front, a celestial scarf with straight ends, a tripartite crown with a large raised rectangle at the front and rosettes on the sides, a matching necklace and plain bangles.

12th century (Ladakh or Western Tibet?), Padmapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Ethereal

Avalokiteshvara in his ‘lotus bearer’ form, standing on a double lotus atop a stepped plinth decorated with chased petals, the arch behind him shaped like an elongated horseshoe (reminiscent of a work seen here )and decorated with a row beading along the body and two rows around the head. He wears a tripartite crown with bows, a long dhoti and a sash across the hips.

His garment, his accessories and the stem of his lotus are decorated with deep incisions.

11th-12th century, Western Himalayas, Padmapani, bronze, photo on Wooley & Wallis 

This is very similar to the following figure seen in a previous post, except for the green gems on the earrings, the absence of a sacred cord  and the  slightly coarser modelling. Avalokitesvhara is identified by the effigy of Amitabha at the front of his tripartite crown, together with the lotus he holds in his left hand, and his right hand held palm out and displaying a lotus embossed in its palm.

11th-12th century, Ladakh, Padmapani Avalokiteshvara, bronze, photo by Koller.

Ladakh, Lamayuru and Kanji

The following sculptures are at the Lamayuru monastery temple (Senge Lakhang), which was built around the 11th century. Unless otherwise stated the photos are by Kishore Tukral, published on

Undated (circa 11th century?), Ladakh, Lamayuru, Senge Lakhang, main altar with Vairocana and the four direction wisdom buddhas, painted clay.

The age of the sculptures is unknown, some of them appear to have been repainted recently. They display Chinese-style draping (ample dhoti with soft pleating, large shawl that covers the arms) associated with the 15th-16th century onwards.

Detail of, Amitabha/Amitayus, with a red body, both hands in the meditation gesture.

Detail of Akshobhya, with a blue body, calling Earth to witness.

An inner and an outer flaming halo is sculpted around the buddhas.

Detail of Amoghasiddhi, with a green body, dispelling fear with his right hand.

Detail of  Ratnasambhava, with a yellow body, his right hand palm out.

Detail of the lion throne below Ratnasambhava.

Detail of the garuda at the top of Vairocana’s throne.

Lamayuru, (Mahakala, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth, seated on a human victim), painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits on

Lamayuru, (Palden Lhamo, clad in a leopard skin loin cloth,  seated on her kiang), same as before.

Lamayuru, tutelary deity (seated on a snow lion), photo by Christian Luczanits on

Undated, Ladakh, Lamayuru, Mahakala, Palden Lhamo, tutelary deity, after being repainted, photo by Kishore Tukral, 2013  on

Lamayuru, undated, Naropa cave,  Naropa,  possibly Taktsang Repa and Milarepa, (painted clay or wood?), photo credits unknown (Kishore Thukral or Eva Lee?) on

Naropa, at the back, is seated on a tiger or leopard skin and holds a skull cup in his left hand. The unidentified lama is seated on a tiger or leopard skin and holds a skull cup in his right hand. Milarepa is next to him. If this is Taktsang Repa Ngawang Gyatso, he lived from 1574 to 1651, which situates these three sculptures around the 17th century at the earliest.  Considering that the temple was destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century then rebuilt, these and the following may have been commissioned for the occasion (or later).

Undated, Lamayuru, prayer hall, Maitreya, same as before.

Maitreya does the ‘turning the wheel of the Law’ gesture with his hands.

Undated, Lamayuru, prayer hall, White Tara, same as before.

White Tara, with a third eye on her forehead and an eye in the palm of her hands and the sole of her feet, displaying the gesture of supreme generosity with her right hand and bestowing refuge with the other.

Undated, Lamayuru, prayer hall, Amitayus, same as before.

Amitayus holds a long-life vase in both hands.

Undated, Lamayuru reliquary temple, Vajradhara, same as before .

Vajradhara holds a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell in his hands crossed over his heart.



According to the Achi Association the temple at Kanji and the paintings inside it are approximately 700 years old. Unfortunately, there is no information as to the age of the sculptures (see


Undated (14th century or later), Ladakh, Kanji gompa altar, painted clay, before latest restoration, photo on

Avalokiteshvara, flanked by Green Tara on his left and the main medicine buddha on his right.

Avalokiteshvara appears in his popular Shadakshari Lokeshvara form, with rosary and lotus in his upper hands. The arch painted on the wall behind him deity depicts birds and kinnaras on each side and a garuda holding a snake in its beak and hands at the top.

Ladakh, Kanji temple, altar, Medicine Buddha, photo on

Bhaisajyaguru is identified by his blue body and the way his right thumb and forefinger are folded to hold an arura fruit while his left hand does the meditation gesture.

Ladakh, Kanji temple, altar, Green Tara, painted clay

The gesture to bestow refuge with her left hand is usually associated with White Tara. Instead of displaying supreme generosity with the other hand, she does a similar gesture but upside down.




Ladakh, a variety of sculptures

Undated, Ladakh, Digar Kharpoche, stone stele carved on three sides, photo by Devers, on Journals

From left to right, Tara and Manjushri with four arms, holding a sword in his upper right hand and the stem of a blue lotus in his lower left hand; Vajrapani, holding a vajra sceptre before his heart and possibly a bell against his left hip; Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form.

9th century or later, Ladakh, Leh, Avalokiteshvara, stone, photo by Christian Luczanits on tugraz.

Avalokiteshvara in his Avalokita form, holding a lotus flower and a lotus bud in his upper hands, a lasso in the lower left hand, the remaining one displaying the gesture of generosity. The figure to his left is Hayagriva, identified by the horse’s head on his own and much smaller in size since he is an attendant.

Undated, Ladakh, Alchi, bodhisattva, wood, published by Christian Luczanits in The Early Buddhist Heritage of Ladakh Reconsidered on  C. Luczanits

A bodhisattva with a Kashmiri-style crown with a crescent moon at the front, princely jewellery and a foliate garland that passes under his legs, a feature seen on works from early Kashmir, Ladakh and especially Himachal Pradesh.

circa 11th century, Ladakh or Lahul (Himachal Pradesh), Shakyamuni, painted wood, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

This sculpture is posted again here as it was previously attributed to Tibet and may be from Ladakh. Apart from the Kashmiri-style proportions and shape, especially of the waist and abdomen, we will note the small piece of robe that covers the buddha’s shoulder (see below).

Circa 11th century, Tibet (or Ladakh?), Shakyamuni, brass with silver and copper inlay, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

A powerful Gupta-style figure with a sharp nose and unibrow, silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips, no urna, reminiscent of various buddhas from Ladakh seen in previous posts. The same goes for the piece of sanghati that discreetly covers his right shoulder and the design of the folds on the other side.

Undated, Ladakh, Manjushri, brass with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources HAR.

Manjushri, identified by the blue lotus that supports a book, wears a tall tripartite crown inlaid with turquoise and decorated with rosettes but no flowing ribbons, princely jewellery, a sash drawn tightly across his chest, a foliate garland that reaches his ankles. The elongated hoofed petals of the lotus base are similar to those of a circa 11th century Vajrasattva from Ladakh published previously and the treatment of his dhoti and belt is identical to that of an Avalokiteshvara at Musée Guimet (shown below for comparison).

10th-11th century, Western Tibet/Ladakh, Avalokiteshvara.

13th-14th century, Ladakh or Western Tibet? (labelled Kashmir or Ladakh), bodhisattva, bronze (brass), private collection, photo on LEMPERTZ.

This bodhisattva with unusual body proportions sits on a lotus base with plump petals typical of circa 14th century Tibet. He appears to hold a pearl between the thumb and middle finger of his right hand and may have held a book in the other, which would correspond to an early non-tantric form of Manjushri (the blue lotus to his right is one of his attributes), although in this case the hand is held palm inwards.

His small chin contrasts with the square face with fleshy lips and nose. He has a   Pala-style chignon with a cascade of carefully incised locks, topped with a large jewel once inlaid with a stone. The tripartite crown is decorated with a geometrical pattern and singular roundels in lieu of rosettes. Another singular feature is the way his unibrow goes sharply upwards, and more so on one side.

15th century, Ladakh, White Tara, bronze (brass) with silver, copper, turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo on Hampel.

White Tara, with silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips, has a third eye at the centre of her unibrow and more eyes on the palm of her hands and the sole of her feet; her princely jewellery is inlaid with silver, turquoise and coral and she is seated on a double-lotus base with a row of silver beading at the top.

Her lower garment is decorated with a chased floral pattern and held in place with a copper-inlaid belt.

Undated (circa 18th century?), Ladakh, said to be Drolma/Tara, metal, at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History Yale.


Ladakh, Mangyu clay sculptures

These clay sculptures are at the Mangyu monastery in Ladakh, dating back to the 13th century at the latest. The photos are by Heinrich Pöll on

Ladakh, Mangyu, Vairocana temple, detail of Vairocana with four heads, painted clay.

Although some faces have been painted again the sculptures are thought to be the original 13th century ones.

Mangyu, Vairocana temple, attendant female deities to the left of Vairocana and white elephant+bird+viyala on the arch around the main deity.

Mangyu, Vairocana temple, overall view.

Mangyu, left chapel, Maitreya holding a ritual water pot by the neck, painted clay.

Mangyu, right chapel, Maitreya with four arms, painted clay.

The Kashmiri features together with the garland of flowers and the long braids of hair recall slightly earlier bronze works attributed to the Tibetan Guge kingdom.

Same as before, detail of the gilt face and the crown. There is an effigy of a wisdom buddha on each leaf of his crown, with Vairocana (white body) at the centre.

Mangyu, Shakyamuni temple, lion on beam.


Ladakh, Sumda Chung

Early 13th century? Ladakh, Sumda Chung, Vairocana shrine, painted clay, overall view, photo on

Ladakh, Sumda Chung, Vairocana shrine, central part, Vairocana with four heads, painted clay, photo on

Ladakh, Sumda Chung, shrine figures, painted clay, photo by Sreekumar Menon on

The throne is supported by snow lions and the arch is decorated with  white elephants,  snow lions, sharabhas mounted by a deity, small kinnaras, makaras mounted by celestial musicians…

… and, hidden behind beams, apsaras holding a crown and a garuda who holds the tail of the makaras in his beak is if they were a long snake.

Sumda Chung, to the left of the Vairocana shrine, bottom part, Akshobhya and accompanying bodhisattvas/attendants.

Sumda Chung, to the left of the Vairocana shrine, top part, Ratnasambhava and accompanying bodhisattvas.

Sumda Chung, to the right of the Vairocana shrine, Amitabha with ‘attendants’ at the top, Amoghasiddhi with ‘attendants’ at the bottom.

Ladakh, Sumda Chung Assembly Hall, Amitabha, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits in an article published on .

Amitabha, with a red body and both hands in the meditation gesture, on a seat supported by three peacocks, his traditional mount. According to the author of the article, both the colours and the gilding are original.

Ladakh, Sumda Chung, labelled ‘Vajraraksha’, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits, same as before.

Ladakh, Sumda Chung, Vajrayaksha, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits on

Ladakh, Sumda Chung, offering goddesses, painted clay, photo by Sreekumar Menon on

Ladakh, Sumda Chung, Avalokiteshvara, painted clay, photo by Christian Luczanits on

A spectacular image of Avalokiteshvara in one of his four-arm forms.

He is identified by the effigy of Amitabha in his crown, photo by Christian Luczanits on

Ladkah, Sumda Chung, Manjushri?, photo by Heinrich Pöll or Christian Luczanits

Attendants in Northwest niche, same as before.

Ladakh, clay sculptures at Alchi (3)

Last lot of photos of clay sculptures at the Alchi monastery complex in Ladakh dated early 13th century at the latest (although the sculptures may be later). Photos by Christian Luczanits unless otherwise stated, published on

Alchi Sumtsek, Avalokiteshvara niche, photo by Jaroslav Poncar on

His dhoti is painted with sites from Kashmir.

Detail of his face and crown with the five wisdom buddhas, Amitabha at the centre, Akshobhya on the left and probably Ratnasambhava on the right.

Sumtsek, (Avalokiteshvara niche, wrathful deity, bottom left).

Sumtsek, (Avalokiteshvara niche, wrathful deity with four arms, wearing an elephant hide and a lion skin on his back, top left).

Sumtsek, (Avalokiteshvara niche, wrathful deity with four arms, top right).

Alchi, Manjushri temple, Blue Manjushri with four hands, one of them holding a sword.

Manjushri temple, golden Manjushri with four hands, one of them holding a sword.

Manjushri temple, Red Manjushri with four hands, one of them holding a sword.

Manjushri temple, White Manjushri with four hands, one of them holding a sword.

Ladakh, clay sculptures at Alchi (2)

Continuing with the painted clay sculptures at the Alchi monastery complex in Ladakh, thought to be dating from the early 13th century (at the latest), photos by Christian Luczanits unless stated otherwise, published on

Alchi Sumtsek, Maitreya, central niche, painted clay, circa 4m, his dhoti is painted with scenes from the historical buddha’s life.

Head of Maitreya, with a wisdom buddha effigy on each leaf of his crown, Vairocana at the centre, Akshobhya to the left of the viewer and possibly Ratnasambhava on the other side.

Sumtsek, top right goddess near Maitreya. She has a red body and a third eye, her right hand does the fear-allaying gesture.

Sumtsek, top left goddess near Maitreya. She has a red body but no third eye and holds a flower in her right hand.

Sumtsek, bottom right goddess near Maitreya.

Sumtsek, bottom left goddess near Maitreya.

Four-armed flying female entity above Maitreya.

Alchi Sumtsek, Manjushri niche, his dhoti is painted with historical characters, photo by Jaroslav Poncar on

He holds the stem of an utpala (blue lotus), his main attribute in early Himalayan art.

Sumtsek, Manjushri niche, goddess, top left.

Alchi Sumtsek, Manjushri niche, goddess, top right.

Alchi Sumtsek, Manjushri niche, goddess, bottom left (of the viewer). This photo and the next one are the wrong way round on the above-mentioned website. The goddess with a blue body at the bottom stretches her right arm out and has her left arm over her lap.

Sumtsek, Manjushri niche, goddess, bottom right ( of the viewer), the white goddess at the bottom has her left arm over her knee and her right hand over her lap.