Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara

18th century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Avalokiteshvara, in his 11-head and 8-arm form, stands on a small lotus with large overlapping petals, holding the usual attributes (rosary, lotus, bow, wheel of dharma, water pot), his main hands held together at heart level, the lower right hand displaying the gesture of supreme generosity.

18th century, Mongolia, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

There are various forms of Avalokiteshvara with one head and four hands, usually seated. The most common one, particularly popular in Tibet and Mongolia, is Shadakshari Lokeshvara. The main hands do the gesture of salutation/reverence, the other two hold a rosary and a lotus. This richly gilt masterpiece follows the style of Zanabazar.

He is adorned with beaded accessories and has the head of Amitabha on top of his own.

18th century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, wood with gold lacquer, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The same form of the deity, with an ample dhoti and a celestial scarf that forms loops around the elbows in the Chinese fashion.

Song Dynasty, Avalokiteshvara, copper with cold gold and pigments, at the Yonghe palace in Beijing, photo by Kenneth Chu.

Although this piece is labelled Song Dynasty, i.e. China, 960-1279 (but could be far more recent), it is reproduced here due to its striking similarity with a sculpture attributed to Mongolia and published in a previous post with the following comments: ‘The style recalls some 11th-12th century Tibetan brass statues with an equally tall chignon, rigid pose, flat billowing scarf, on a similar type of lotus base. Although labelled 14th century, it may be a more recent imitation.”

Some time after this was posted, the museum website labelled the item ’19th century’.

14th [19th] century, Mongolia, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with cold gold on face, at the Zanabazar Museum in Ulan Bator (Mongolia).

 

 

 

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Mongolia, a few portraits (2)

18th century, Mongolia, a bogd gegeen [spiritual leader], possibly Zanabazar, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Wrapped in fine Chinese silk garments with an incised hem and wearing the pointed cap traditionally worn by Sakya lamas, this hierarch holds a vajra sceptre at heart level and a bell with a vajra handle. He sits on a plinth decorated with a double floral border.

18th century, Mongolia, Tsong Khapa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Portrayed as a deified lama, holding the stem of lotuses that support a book and a sword, Tsong Khapa has a bowl in his left hand and does the gesture of teaching/debate with the other.

Same as before, Yeshe Dorje, same as before.

Yeshe Dorje (Zanabazar, in this context) is seated on two embroidered cushions covered with a blanket. He holds the same attributes as the bogd gegeen above.

18th century, Mongolia, Yeshe Dorje, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

We are told on the Himalayan Art Resources website that, according to common belief,  Zanabazar instructed his students to depict him with a vajra and a bell when the image was to be seen by religious practitioners. The rich gilding, soft facial features and large overlapping lotus petals on the base are typical of works coming out of his workshop. Instead of beading (to signify stamens) the top of the base is decorated with a floral motif.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Padmasambhava and consorts, gilt copper alloy and pigments, from the Sandor P. Fuss collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

 

Mongolia, wrathful Vajrapani

Undated (17th century circa?), Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This masterpiece depicts Vajrapani in his one-head and two-hand form, wielding a vajra and doing a gesture to ward off evil with his left hand. He has a tiger skin knotted around his waist and a mitre-like hair arrangement, a floral tiara and matching earrings, some beaded jewellery, a thin celestial scarf with serpentine ends that forms a frame around him. The style of the lotus pedestal is typical of Mongolia.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one wears a long snake as a sacred thread. He does the gesture to keep evil away with both hands.

18th century, Mongolia, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A different style altogether, with an emphasis on the orange flaming hair and matching eyebrows.

Undated, Mongolia, Vajrapani, copper alloy, same as before.

Same type of hair, but topped with a vajra finial and offset by a five-skull crown with foliate panels. The left hand holds a lasso while doing the same gesture as before.

 

Mongolia, wrathful forms (2)

16th century (or later?), Mongolia, Hayagriva, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, published on http://www.buddhacollectors.com.

This is Red Hayagriva, who has three heads, each with three eyes and three horses’ heads in his flaming hair. Five of his six hands would normally hold a sword, a ritual staff, a vajra, a lasso of intestine, a spear, the other hand does a wrathful gesture. He may have 6 or 8 legs, the above has six, the right ones bent at the knee, the left ones held straight. He wears a human hide and an elephant hide over his back, a tiger skin loin cloth around his waist – the tail of the animal dangling at the front – and is adorned with snakes.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Achala, gilt copper and painted details, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Achala with one head, with three eyes and the upper fangs biting the lower lip;  two hands, holding a flaming sword and a lasso; 2 legs, one kneeling and the other crouching. His flaming hair is tied with a snake. He wears a tiger skin dhoti knotted at the front, the head of the animal ‘devouring’ his right knee.

Undated (17th-18th century?), Mongolia, Black Jambhala, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Black Jambhala, normally ithyphallic and without earrings, stands on the elephant-headed god of wealth while holding a mongoose in his left hand and a skull cup filled with gems in the other. He wears the 8 naga ornaments (snakes) and some jewellery. The artist has given him a human face, with a thin moustache. The darker tone of the cold gold applied to the face is a feature typical of Mongolian works.

 

 

A very angry deity

17th-18th century, Tibet, labelled dharmapala, bronze and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie's.

17th-18th century, Tibet, labelled dharmapala, bronze and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This unidentified male deity with a wrathful appearance has one head with three eyes and erect flaming hair, two legs in a dancing posture, four arms in which only one attribute remains. He wears a tiger skin dhoti and wrathful ornaments ( a five-skull crown with Chinese-style serpentine ribbons, a garland of severed heads, bone jewellery with rosettes). There are nine male dharmapalas, Begtse Chen, who always wears a coat of mail; Dorje Legpa, who always rides a goat, a lion or a camel; Hayagriva who has the head of a horse on top of his; Rahula whose body is half human and half serpent; Tsang dKarpo, who rides a horse and is dressed in armour; Vaishravana, who always dresses in Mongolian armour; Yama Dharmaraja, who has a buffalo head; Yamantaka, whose Yamari form has a human face but the one-head form only has two hands; Mahakala is the only one who may have one head and four arms, but in Tibet his four-hand form is normally seated and, besides, he always has bulging eyes (and short fat legs). This may not be a dharmapala, at any rate it is a very angry deity!

Mongolia, Amitabha

18th century, Mongolia, Shakyamuni, Zanabazar school, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie's.

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, Zanabazar school, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie’s.

Amitabha sits in vajrasana, holding an alms bowl with both hands in the dhyana mudra (meditation gesture). The broad hem of his robe and the plinth of the double-lotus base are decorated with an incised pattern. His delicate facial features have been painted with pigments. There is a prominent urna on his forehead. His curly hair is made of thick beading and topped with a gold finial. One end of his upper garment is pleated into a small fishtail design over his shoulder.

18th c., Mongolia, Amitabha, Zanabazar school, gilt c.a., 12,4 cm, Christie's

Same as before.

Same as before.

18th century, Mongolia, Buddha, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie’s.

The eyes of this buddha are neither inlaid nor painted. The hem of his sanghati is decorated with an elegant floral design, one end discretely folded over the left shoulder. The lower part of his garment is neatly arranged under his ankles like the petals of a flower. He sits on a base shaped like a lotus flower with very broad upward-going petals slightly curled at the end and incised stamens.

Mongolia, Vajravarahi and Chakrasamvara

18th century, Mongolia, Vajravarahi, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay and pigments, private collection.

18th century, Mongolia, Vajravarahi, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay and pigments, private collection.

This form of Vajrayogini has the appearance of a dakini, her legs in a dancing posture, holding a sword or a flaying knife (missing here) in her right hand and a skull cup in the other. There should be a sow’s head sticking out of her own. She has a khatvanga resting on her left arm and is adorned with a garland of freshly severed human heads, a five-skull crown, Chinese-style jewellery and celestial scarf. There is a small buddha at the top of her orange flaming hair. She stands on a human corpse. Vajravarahi is the consort of Chakrasamvara.

18th century, Mongolia, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy and pigments, private collection.

Chakrasamvara is rarely depicted on his own. This form has four heads, 2 legs, 12 arms. The hands crossed over his heart hold a thunderbolt and a bell (vajra and ghanta). His other hands hold the ends of an elephant hide behind his head, a flaying knife and a skull cup, an axe and a folded lasso, a trident and a staff (khatvanga), drums and severed heads. He is adorned with a skull crown, elaborate Chinese-style jewellery inlaid with turquoise, two animal skins around his waist, a belt with raining-jewel pendants. Each face has a third eye and bared fangs, the hair is gathered into a chignon topped with a gold finial. He stands on two victims (missing here).