Tibet, Manjushri – various forms

Undated (circa 11th century?), Western Tibet, Guge Kingdom, Ngari Manjushri, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom,  is particularly easy to identify when he brandishes a sword. In his sthiracakra form he holds the Prajnaparamita tantra in his left hand at heart level, as above.

The tripartite crown with triangular panels and large rosettes, the foliate garland, the stippled decoration on the accessories and the incisions are typical of the Ngari area.

14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, at the Rietberg Museum in Zürich (Switzerland), photo from the Hungtington Archive.

In his arapachana form he holds at heart level the stem of a lotus that supports the manuscript. According to the texts, it should be a blue lotus, which has a triangular shape because it is never fully open (unlike this one).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Guhyasamaja Manjuvajra, gilt copper, photo from the Huntington Archive.

One of the various forms of Manjushri derived from the namasangiti tantra, Guhyasamaja Manjuvajra may be with his consort or alone. He has three heads and six hands, in which he holds a flaming sword and a blue lotus (utpala) topped with a book (upper hands), a vajra sceptre and a bell -missing here from his main hands – a bow and an arrow (lower hands).

15th century, Tibet (labelled China on Himalayan Art Resources), Manjushri, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Originally, White Manjushri had no sword at all. From the 13th century onwards he started to be depicted with lotuses supporting the manuscript to his left and the hilt of a sword to his right.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, possibly Central Tibet (Tsang atelier), bronze (copper alloy), at Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo from the Huntington Archive.

His hands often do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with coral and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Hayman Himalayan Art.

When seated, even if the hilt of a sword is not visible, the book on the lotus to his left is enough to identify him.

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Tibet, White Manjushri – standing (3)

12th century, Western Tibet, bodhisattva Manjushri, schist and pigments, at Stanford University (USA), published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The manuscript and/or the blue lotus that help identify him are missing.

His moonlike face and his hair are painted with pigments, the chignon is fastened with a golden ribbon and topped with a lotus bud finial. He is adorned with a low tiara, princely jewellery and a sacred thread. His right hand, displays a refuge-bestowing gesture (the tip of the ring finger pressing the tip of the thumb).

 

11th-12th century, Western Himalayas, probably Manjushri, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Pundoles.This West-Tibetan style sculpture is almost the same as a West Tibetan  Manjushri at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, published in a previous post and reproduced below. He holds the stem of a lotus topped with a  manuscript in his left hand and has an upright conch shell in the other.

11th-12th century, Western Tibet, brass, at the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, UK).

17th-18th century, tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

The lotuses that support the hilt of a sword and the Prajnaparamita sutra are a clear indication that this is the bodhisattva of wisdom. His tall Pala-style chignon is also topped with a lotus finial. He wears a long transparent dhoti that reveals his knee caps. The hands are held in the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture more often seen on Chinese and Nepalese sculptures of Manjushri than on Tibetan ones.

Tibet, peaceful Manjushri – seated (7)

16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and stones, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The bodhisattva of wisdom is doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture while holding the stem of lotuses that support a book and the hilt of a sword.

His long dhoti is decorated with fine incisions throughout and his belt is engraved with a geometrical pattern. He wears showy beaded and stone-inlaid jewellery including ankle ornaments worn over his garment.

Undated, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt metal, turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A similar Newari-style image,

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

 

Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti (4)

17th century, Tibet, Manjughosa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Far East Asian Art.

The namasangiti form of Manjushri/Manjughosa may have 1 or 3 heads and up to 12 arms. The above has one head and four hands, in which he holds a sword and a manuscript; the missing attributes are a bow and an arrow.

Undated (circa 18th century ?), Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this Pala-revival image we can see the bow in one of his left hands. The other left hand holds the long stem of a blue lotus supporting the Prajnaparamita sutra topped with a flaming jewel.

16th century, (Tibet?), Manjushri, namasangiti, silvered copper alloy with stones and coral, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Tibet, Manjushri with sword (5)

11th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.asianartresource.com

The bodhisattva of wisdom brandishes a vajra-tipped sword in one hand and holds the stem of a blue lotus topped with a manuscript in the other. He wears a Ladakhi-style tripartite crown and a long celestial scarf, large floral earrings, beaded jewellery, belt and sacred cord. His dhoti, much shorter on one side, is decorated with an incised geometrical pattern. A large turquoise stone marks the urna on his forehead. He displays Kashmiri features such as the marked pectorals and the cruciform navel.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Manjushri, bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A Pala-style version of the same deity, wearing a knee-length garment decorated with a stippled floral motif.

Undated, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This is an example of the  ‘Pala-revival’ style in Tibet, of which there 2 main phases (14th-15th century and 17th-18th century).

 

The sword is broken but the lotus supporting a book topped with a pearl identify Manjushri beyond doubt.

Late 15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Newar artists from the Kathmandu valley brought with them to Tibet the custom of gilding the sculpture and decorating it with small cabochons. This item also displays Chinese features such as the ample draping of the dhoti and the shawl over the shoulders with loops at elbow level.

 

Tibet, Manjushri – Namasangiti (3)

Late 16th century, Tibet, Manjuvajra Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

There are various forms of Manjushri derived from the namasangiti tantra. Manjuvajra usually has three heads and six hands and may be depicted alone or with his consort. Traditionally, he holds a bow and an arrow, a sword and a blue lotus, his main hands embrace the consort and may hold a bell and a thunderbolt sceptre (as above).

The hair is pulled into a joint chignon topped with a half-vajra finial, partly hidden by the (broken) blade of his sword.

16th century, Tibet, Namasangiti Manjushri, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Very rare in sculpture, this form of Manjushri with six heads and two hands is labelled Samkshipta Guhyaka, Namasangiti on the forever useful Himalayan Art Resources website. The hands are held in the gesture of meditation while holding the stem of lotuses that support the Prajnaparamita sutra.

Tibet, peaceful Manjushri – seated (7)

14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with turquoise and lapis lazuli inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Manjushri sits in the vajra position, his hands turning the wheel of dharma and holding the stem of two lotuses, the blue one (fan-shaped) to his left supporting a manuscript topped with a jewel (traditionally a pearl). This particular iconography of peaceful/White Manjushri seems to have been popular in Tibet from the 13th century onwards and often includes the hilt of a sword on the lotus to his right, as below.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This remarkable sculpture depicts the deity with a long dhoti richly incised with a floral motif, a matching shawl over his shoulders…

and matching shin ornaments (as well as anklets).

He has silver-inlaid eyes and urna, copper-inlaid lips and dimples, large floral disc earrings, bulky armbands and bracelets that match the design on his crown. The lining of the shawl has an incised geometrical pattern.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, same as before.

Some early works show him with a helmet topped with a half-vajra finial. The above has a tall chignon with the same type of finial.

15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Manjushri often holds two different types of lotuses, including a blue one to his left to support the sacred text.

15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy with traces of gilding and stones, same as before.

The hilt of the sword normally comes out of a white lotus and it has flames around it.

15th-16th century, Tibet, White Manjushri, U-Tsang province, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

A rare image of Manjushri, seated on a lotus complete with stalk and leaves, sprouting from a lotus base decorated with three elephants. He holds his left hand in the debate/teaching gesture, holding a pearl between forefinger and thumb and displaying another in the palm of his hand.