Nepal, Late Malla Manjushri (3)

Early 17th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Manjushri, Dharmadhatu Vagisvajra, sandstone, private collection, photo by Renaud Montméat.

This form of Manjushri with 3 to 5 heads and 6 to 8 hands is rarely seen in the form of a sculpture. He normally has the effigy of a buddha on his chignon or several buddhas on his crown;  the above wears floral crowns and a matching garland. He holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands, the remaining right hands hold a sword, a bow and an elephant goad; the other left hands hold a book, an arrow and a lasso.

17th century, Nepal, Manjushri, black stone, private collection, photo by

This stele depicts an early form of the one-head and two-hand Manjushri, with a sword in his right hand and a manuscript in the left hand, held at heart level. It corresponds to various aspects of Manjushri described in ancient texts, such as White Manjushri Arapachana and Manjushri Sthira Cakra, the former has a white body on paintings, the latter a saffron-coloured one.

17th century, Nepal, Manjushri, copper alloy, private collection, published on

In the later and more common version, he holds the stem of a blue lotus that supports the book.

The above displays an incised lotus within a diamond in the palm of his hands.


His long dhoti is decorated with engraved lotuses.

1784, Nepal, Manjushri with Sarasvati, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Dressed in Chinese-style silk garments, the couple sits, but not in embrace, on a lotus atop a throne covered with a cloth and supported by two elephants. Her right hand is extended palm out to indicate generosity, the other is held to signify teaching or debate.

He has four heads and six hands. In his main hands we can see a vajra sceptre and a bell (under her left elbow); the remaining right hands hold a sword (the blade missing) and a solar wheel; the middle left hand holds a noose, the upper one probably held a book.

18th century, Nepal, Manjushri and Sarasvati, gilt copper alloy, at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (Australia).

A very similar work, with a flaming halo fastened to his back.


Nepal, Late Malla – wrathful figures

16th century, Nepal, Achala, gilt copper alloy with gems, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

Blue Achala, his upper fangs biting down his lower lip, half kneeling half crouching, brandishes a sword and holds a (missing) noose or lasso. His leopard skin loin cloth is held in place with a sash studded with gems, like his crown and other accessories, a celestial scarf with floral attachments flowing on each side of him.

17th century, Nepal or Tibet, Chandamaharoshana Achala (labelled Mahacandaroshana), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

Extremely rare in sculpture, this form of Blue Achala half kneeling half crouching and dressed in a tiger skin loin cloth may have two or four hands and is usually in embrace with his consort, who wears a bone apron and has both legs around his waist. In the two- hand form he brandishes a sword (broken here) in his right hand and holds a noose in the other; his consort holds a skull cup and there would have been a flaying knife in her missing hand. On the Nepalese paintings published on the Himalayan Art Resources website he has a garland of severed heads around his neck and she has a garland of skulls.

16th century, Nepal, Vajrabhairava, ekavira, gilt bronze, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

The only form of Yamantaka with a buffalo head has 9 faces, 34 hands and 16 legs that tread on gods, birds and other animals. The central head at the top is Manjushri’s. His main hands clutch a flaying knife and a skull cup, the others hold a variety of wrathful implements and Brahma’s head with four faces.

17th century (1632), Nepal, Krodha Vighnantaka, stone, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA), photo from the Pacific Film Archive.

Krodha Vighnantaka is depicted alone, in his three-head six-hand form, treading on Ganapati. His main hands do a gesture to subdue demons, the remaining right hands hold a visvajra on a stick and a lotus bud, the remaining left hands hold a solar wheel typical of Malla art and a lasso.

Circa 18th century (or earlier?), Nepal, Vajrapani, black stone, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

Same deity, same aspect, with a flaming arch around him.

18th century, Nepal, Mahakala, stone, private collection, photo credits not quoted, published on pinterest.

Mahakala in is popular panjara nata form, a danda stick resting across his arms, a flaying knife and skull cup in his hands, squats on a victim atop a throne covered with a cloth and supported by two snow lions. His flaming hair is tied with a snake and adorned with an effigy of Akshobhya and a skull crown. he wears large floral earrings, a Late Malla style necklace, a garland of skulls, foliate bracelets and anklets.


Nepal, Late Malla buddhas

Labelled 15th-18th century, (late Malla period), Nepal, Amitabha, at the Mahabuddha temple in Patan, photo from the Huntington Archive.

The red body and the begging bowl in his cupped hands identify this buddha as Amitabha.

16th century, Nepal, Amitabha, gilt copper, at the Khadgayogini temple in Sanku (Nepal), photo from the Huntington Archive.

The begging bowl in the cupped hands and the peacock throne correspond to Amitabha, who is sometimes depicted with a bodhisattva appearance but he normally has one head and two hands – here we have twelve. The main ones do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, the pair below hold the bowl. The remaining left hands hold a branch of the ashoka tree, a vajra-handled bell, a bow, a noose; the remaining right hands hold a sword, a vajra sceptre, and a non-identified object; the lower hand displays the gesture of generosity. There is an archaic form of Manjushri with 3 heads and 6 hands who holds a sword, a bow, an arrow, a vajra sceptre, a bell, a book, a noose and an elephant goad, or with two of the hands turning the wheel of dharma instead of holding these last two implements. We may be looking at one of those rare works that blend several deities together.

16th century, Nepal, Akshobhya, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Cornette de St Cyr.

The iconography is the same as for Shakyamuni calling Earth to witness, a minute vajra sceptre is placed near the beaded rim of the lotus base.

16th century, Nepal?, Akshobhya, gilt copper, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Crowned buddhas usually represent the historical buddha but in the absence of dharma wheels on the sole of their feet they are understood to represent Akshobhya.

15th-16th century, Nepal, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Arthur Millner.

Vajradhara, with one head topped with a vajra finial and two hands, holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his hands crossed over his heart.

17th century, Nepal, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In his three-head and six-hand form, the upper hands hold a sword and a noose (missing here), the remaining hands would normally hold a hook and a skull cup but the position of either hands corresponds to a thinner attribute held between two fingers. A singular beaked flower or jewel shows at the extremities of his sash and the folds of his dhoti.

18th century, Nepal, Amitayus, copper, private collection, photo by Prajna Gallery.

We have seen a variety of similar statues of Amitayus in the Tibetan section of this blog, seated on a cushion and adorned with the same type of hair ornament and floral jewellery, a broad sash across his chest.

18th century, Nepal, Amitayus, hollow cast gilt copper, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Chinese-style sculptures made in Nepal during the late Malla period usually include a shawl which forms a sharp loop at elbow level and a supple silk garment which covers the legs and part of the lotus base.

17th century, Nepal, Buddha, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and pigments, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Nepal, Shakyamuni – various styles (2)

15th-16th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Florence Number Nine.

A small buddha (7 cm) with a smiling face, an oval chin, large hair curls and lotus finial, his right hand calling Earth to witness his enlightenment, wearing a transparent sanghati with a thick hem, part of the garment forming a scallop shape over the lotus base and thick pleats over his left shoulder.

16th-17th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Seated on a separately cast lotus base and commissioned by a Tibetan patron, this buddha with a squarish face holds a begging bowl in his left hand and wears a silk robe draped in the Chinese fashion.

Circa 17th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The body proportions and the buddha’s robe covering both shoulders recall the much earlier Licchavi style while the throne supported by inverted lotuses forming a vajra sceptre and covered with a large pleated cloth reaching the plinth is typical of late Chinese (or Sino-Tibetan) works. 

15th-16th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise inlay, published by Dr. Pratapaditya Pal in an article on

A rare sculpture of Shakyamuni in his crowned buddha form with a large vajra sceptre placed on the folds of his sanghati below his ankles and a large floral/visvajra design for the central panel of his crown, a piece of his garment arranged like raining jewels over his left shoulder.

16th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigments, published by Dr. Pratapaditya Pal in an article on

In most cases, the vajra sceptre is placed directly on the lotus base.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Shakyamuni,  hammered copper (with copper and silver inlay?), at the Patan Museum.


Nepal, Late Malla Hevajra

16th century (1531), Nepal, Hevajra, gilt copper with pigments, is or was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (USA).

Popular in Nepal, the shastradhara form (holder of weapons) of Hevajra, in embrace with Nairatmya, has eight faces, four legs standing on two Hindu deities, and sixteen hands. In his main hands he holds a vajra sceptre and a bell across Nairatmya’s back, in the remaining right hands he holds a hook, a trident, a crescent moon, a lotus bud, a solar wheel. In the remaining left hands he holds a noose, a skull cup, a jewel, a ritual staff, a bow, a lotus flower, one of the upper hands seems to always remain empty and does a threatening gesture. On this occasion, another two gods of Hindu origin are seated on the pedestal, each holding one of his remaining feet.

Undated, probably Nepal, Hevajra, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Same form of the deity as before. The heads are arranged in a row of seven semi-wrathful faces topped with a wrathful head, sometimes described as being Bhairava’s.

Nairatmya’s bone apron is made of pearls, with turquoise and red gem cabochons that form a floral pattern.

18th century, Nepal, Hevajra, gilt metal, at Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

Nepal, Late Malla – female deities

15th century, Nepal, Bhrkuti Devi, wood and pigments, private collection, photo from the Huntington Archive.

In Nepalese art, the Nepalese consort of Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo is sometimes depicted like Tara in one of her four-arm forms. Her main right hand does a gesture of reassurance, the attributes are missing from the other hands. There is a third eye on her delicately painted face.

16th-17th century, Nepal, Prajnaparamita, wood, at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.

The goddess of transcendent wisdom, mother of all buddhas, in her four-hand form, a book in her top left hand, a (missing) rosary on the other side, the lower right hand held in a gesture of reassurance, her lower left hand, not normally y held down, probably held an attribute.

16th century, Nepal, Sitatapatra, schist, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Sitatapatra may have three heads and 6, 8 or 10 hands, or five heads and 10 hands. The above has five (or four?) heads and eight hands, in which she holds  a parasol and a sword, a bow and an arrow, a bell and a vajra sceptre, what may be a jewelled lasso and a wheel with a floral design.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Prajnaparamita, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Galerie Hioco.

A seated version, holding a vajra sceptre and a book in her top hands, the main hands displaying a fear-allaying and meditation gestures.

15th-16th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and stone inlay, private collection, same as before.


Nepal, dakinis (2)

16th century, Nepal, dakini, copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This female figure with a traditional dakini appearance, possibly Vajrayogini, wields a flaying knife and holds a skull cup at heart level and a ritual staff in the crook of her left arm. She wears a five-skull crown, a garland of skulls, bone jewellery/accessories including large earrings and an apron with a floral design. Note the large flower at the base of the staff.

16th century, Nepal, Vajravarahi, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Hollywood Galleries.

The iconography for Vajravarahi is the same (except for the sow’s head sticking out of her right temple). This one tramples a victim on a lotus base with tendrils shooting from the sides and a singular mandorla with a row of skulls, a row of vajra sceptres, a row of curly flames.

16th-17th century, Nepal, Vajradakini, bronze with cold gold, private collection, photo by Wooley and Wallis.

Vajradakini may refer to one of four dakinis among Jambhala’s retinue who holds a vajra sceptre, or to Vajrayogini, who may hold a drum or a vajra sceptre but more often has a flaying knife in her right hand, and a skull cup in the other. The above image corresponds more specifically to her Sarvabuddha Dakini aspect, a young woman always depicted with her head sideways, raising a skull cup full of blood to her lips and holding down a flaying knife.

16th-17th century, Nepal, dakini, gilt copper alloy, photo by Bonhams.

Other forms of Vajrayogini face the viewer, raising the flaying knife at head level and holding the skull cup before the heart, just like the first image in this post. She usually has a ritual staff leaning against her left arm, missing here.

16th-17th century, Nepal, dakini, at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

This female character with three eyes wears a long garment covered with a bone apron and holds a rosary and a book/manuscript in her top hands, a skull cup in her lower right hand. The lower left hand does the gesture for bestowing refuge. She is adorned with a floral and foliate crown with skulls and festoons on the rim.