Tibet, Vajrasattva (15)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Carlo Cristi at Asia Week New York 2005.

Probably made by an Indian artist in Tibet, this Vajrasattva wears a long dhoti decorated with an incised pattern and held in place with a heavy belt with large roundels. His crown and jewellery are inlaid with large turquoise cabochons (some missing).

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Andrew Lau on Hollywood Galleries

On this singular example derived from the Pala style, the lower row of petals on the base is raised and there is no beading on the upper or lower rim, the backplate has an unusual shape, the treatment of the eyes is different, the  lower garment is shorter and the jewellery is less elaborate.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Nepalese-style buddhas and bodhisattvas from the Malla period nearly always wear stone-inlaid ‘shin ornaments’ as well as anklets. As a result, their lower garment only reaches below the knee and the border is usually embroidered, often with a rice grain motif. This one has a double border including a floral and geometrical pattern over the hem and a row of scrolling vines above it.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt metal with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources item 7953.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt metal with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources item 59621.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt metal with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Holly Auction, item 8713 on Himalayan Art Resources.

Vajrasattva is one of the few buddhas who may be seated with his legs unlocked. We see him here in a relaxed posture, on a lotus base with an incised motif on the lower rim.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams, auction 25150.

On this striking Tibetan sculpture with moon-like facial features, the buddha is framed by a jewelled celestial scarf forming a three-lobed nimbus around his head and loops at elbow level the ends carefully arranged on the lotus base, next to his knees. A profusion of small size turquoise and coral cabochons has been used to decorate his accessories.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Florence Number Nine.

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Tibet, Vajrasattva (15)

Undated (Tibet), Vajrasattva, (copper alloy with cold gold, turquoise and black pigment), photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts

This buddha with a serene face wears a very unusual Nepalese-style crown with big lotus buds at the front and, instead of the large hoops normally seen on such sculptures, big floral earrings. His scarf is decorated with a chased motif and arranged behind him in a manner often seen on 13th and 14th century Tibetan brass works. The hair is painted black, which indicates an influence from the Kathmandu Valley.

Undated (Tibet), Vajrasattva, (copper alloy with cold gold and blue pigment), photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts as before.

An Indo-Tibetan figure with a stern gaze, cold gold on his face, blue pigment on his braided hair (his crown now lost), small delicate fingers and fleshy toes, part of his garment arranged like in a scallop shape over the (missing) base.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, brass with pigments, private collection, photo Bonhams

Vajrasattva, seated in the vajra position, holding an upright vajra sceptre  before his heart and a vajra bell upside down near his left hip.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo Bonhams

Unlike most other buddhas, he may be seated with one leg pendant. As Bonhams explain, in such case he has the function of a bodhisattva.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt copper or copper alloy with turquoise, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 202938

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva (labelled ‘Avalokiteshvara’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste

15th century, (Tibet), Vajrasattva, gilt bronze (copper alloy with turquoise and coral), private collection, photo by Polyauction

15th century, (Tibet?), Vajrasattva, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Polyauction

15th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise, private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise, clear gems and traces of cold gold, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts as before.

16th century, Western Tibet, Vajrasattva, bronze (brass), private collection, photo on Lempertz

16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Lempertz

16th-17th century, Tibet (labelled ‘Nepal’), Vajrasattva, bronze, private collection, photo by Casa Cambi d’Aste.

He usually has a half vajra finial on his head.

Tibet, Vajrasattva (14)

14th c?, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze+turq., 11,8 cm, lab. 18th, Paris sothebys

13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze and turquoise, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Vajrasattva always has a bodhisattva appearance, and, as explained on the Himalayan Art Resources website regarding the constant confusion with Vajrapani, he is always seated, usually with his legs locked.

15th century, Tibet, Vajradhara (labelled Tara), gilt metal with stones, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste.

He often holds the vajra sceptre upright before his heart and always has the bell near his left hip.

The above is a rare example of a Tibetan lotus base with petals across the back.

15th century, (Tibet ?), Vajrasattva with consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Heritage auctions.

Vajrasttva with his consort, who normally holds the same attributes in her hands crossed over his back. This one holds a skull cup in one hand and possibly a flaying knife in the other (we saw one such case in the Nepalese section of this blog).

 

Tibet, Vajrasattva (13)

Circa 12th century, Tibet or Northeast India, Vajrasattva, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this Pala-style work, Vajrasattva is seated with a leg pendant and holds the vajra sceptre horizontally, pointing to his heart. The left hand holds the stem of a blue lotus (utpala) and he has a lotus in his headdress.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt brass with gems, private collection, photo by Hanhai auction.

Most sculptures depict him with the bell turned towards his left hip as on this Densatil-style example.

14th-15th c., Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze, 8,3 cm, Sotheby's Paris

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

When he is seated with both legs locked, the vajra sceptre held at heart level may be the only feature that distinguishes him from seated Vajrapani.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy with pigments, private collection, photo by Navin Kumar.

This one has a small vajra sceptre before him, on the lotus seat.

16th c., Tibet, Vajrasattva, bronze+paint, 22 cm, triratna finial, Hermitage

16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, bronze (copper alloy) with paint, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Here is one holding the vajra diagonally, his chignon topped with a triple gem finial.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and stones, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

A variant, with the forefinger of the right hand fully stretched, a large lotus and half-vajra finial on his head.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Kapoor Galleries.

A striking detail on this Pala revival statue is the position of the legs, which are not locked.

Tibet, Vajrasattva – various forms

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, brass with  turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

In his peaceful form, Vajrasattva may be seated or standing. When seated he holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand at heart level, often upright, and a bell in the other against his hip. The thin celestial scarf forming a frame around the subject is typical of a group of metal sculptures attributed to 13th and 14th century Tibet.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A rare sculpture of the deity in his heruka form, seated in embrace with his consort and holding the attributes in the same way as Vajradhara would.

Bonhams point out that it is the sharp facial expression on his face that distinguishes him from the latter. (The fact that she holds the same attributes is another clue: Vajradhara’s consort would hold a vajra sceptre  and a skull cup).

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

Peaceful, with the consort.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva and consort, heruka form, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

An extremely rare brass sculpture of the wrathful form of this buddha, with his consort. He holds the vajra sceptre upright before his heart and the bell against his hip, clad in  a tiger skin loin cloth and adorned with snakes, including a long one worn as a sacred thread. She wears a leopard skin, holds a knife and a skull cup and is adorned with snakes. Their face is painted with cold gold and pigments, their hair dyed with orange pigment. The stand on a double-lotus base complete with flaming mandorla.

Tibet, Vajrasattva (12)

13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy with stone inlay, Nyingjei Lam collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy with stone inlay, Nyingjei Lam collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Vajrasattva is seated on a double lotus base with heart-shaped petals, over a stepped throne supported by two lions (with rather canine ears and noses) and decorated with a floral or wheel motif at the front. There is a pointed halo behind his head and, forming an arch around him, we can see viyalas, makaras, apsaras among scrolling vegetation, and a garuda at the top with a naga in its mouth.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

17th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Same theme, different style and period. The arch is topped with a parasol and strengthened with a horizontal bar prolonged by a sceptre with a flaming jewel finial on each side.

14th century, Western Tibet, Vajrasattva, brass with cold gold and pigments, at the Walters

14th century, Western Tibet, Vajrasattva, brass with cold gold, pigments and stone inlay (most of them missing), at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (USA).

This interesting Vajrasattva also has a pointed halo fastened to his back, engraved with a floral motif and decorated with a triratna at the top. His lower garment and scarf are incised with a geometrical pattern. We have seen similar jewellery and stone-inlaid decoration for the hem of the dhoti on works from the 16th century.

 

Tibet, Vajrasattva (11)

16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, same as before.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, private collection, on Himalayan Art Resources.

The deity sits rather rigidly on a double-lotus base with pointed petals, his broad shoulders covered with a shawl that goes round the arms before ending in a serpentine shape.

16th-c-tibet-vajrasattva-c-a-4699-cm-vajra-finial-shelleydonald-rubin-on-har

He wears innovative oval earrings with a scrolled leaf at the centre, discreet necklaces and bracelets. His crown is made of five pointed foliate panels, large bows and serpentine ribbons matched by a few spiky strands of hair.

16th-c-tibet-vajrasattva-c-a-4699-cm-floral-border-shelleydonald-rubin-on-har

The dhoti, draped in the Chinese fashion and covering most of the pedestal, is held in place with a festooned belt. The hem of the garment is decorated with a floral border.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

Partly inspired by the Indian Pala style, this figure has a low crown with the effigy of a buddha at the front, large bows and incised ribbons, his chignon topped with a rather bulky half-vajra. He wears an incised dhoti with a piped hem, a Chinese-style scarf with broad loops at elbow level and serpentine ends, coarse beaded jewellery and a matching belt. The attributes are slightly oversized and the vajra sceptre is held horizontally.

17th-18th-c-tibet-vajrasattva-gilt-c-a-14-cm-back-mossgreen

A view of the back shows us that he wears a festooned belt, that the dhoti is incised throughout and that the lotus petals continue all the way round.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

18th century, Tibet (or Tibeto-Chinese?), Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

It is unusual for Vajrasattva to have his left leg unfolded (rather than the right one) and the position of his hands doesn’t correspond to the various ways he may hold the vajra sceptre or the bell.