Tibet, Vajradhara with lotuses (3)

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper, blue pigment and glass inlay, at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

Vajradhara (an emanation of the supreme buddha,Samantabhadra)  has his hands crossed over his heart and holds the stem of lotuses topped with his attributes, a vajra sceptre and vajra-handled bell (ghanta).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

The vajra sceptre can be placed horizontally or vertically, as above.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Vajradhara, who represents the quintessence of buddhahood, always has a bodhisattva appearance.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, (Vajradhara), silver alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

He is often confused with Vajrasattva (his equivalent according to some schools, his delegate according to others)  but the latter never has his hands crossed over his chest.

 

 

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Tibet, Ratnasambhava – buddha appearance

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

Ratnasambhava is seated on a lotus base with a vajra (usually associated with Akshobhya) in front of him, his right hand held out in the gesture of generosity and displaying a gem (ratna).

 

His sanghati has a wide border decorated with an incised motif and one end of the garment is neatly pleated over the shoulder.

16th century, Tibet, a buddha (Ratnsambhava), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

A similar iconography (gem in hand, vajra sceptre in front of him) but a different style, with a singular  way of draping the sanghati at the front.

Tibet, Vajradhara alone (9)

14th-15th century (previously dated 14th century by a different gallery), Tibet, Vajrasattva (Vajradhara), gilt copper alloy with stone and coral inlay, photo by Mandarin Auction Co Ltd.

This superb work depicts Vajradhara without his consort, his hands crossed over his heart and holding his attributes, vajra and ghanta, his chignon topped with a vajra finial.

He is adorned with delicate jewellery inlaid with tiny pieces of turquoise and coral (a sign that the sculpture was made for a Tibetan patron), including ear adornments typical of the Nepalese Malla period. Another detail pointing to a Newar artist are the rings on his fingers.

His lower garment is richly incised with a floral motif and medallions.

15th century, Western Tibet, Guge style, Vajradhara, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This honey-coloured (high copper content) sculpture combines elements characteristic of the former Tibetan Guge  kingdom (facial features and crown, cruciform navel) with others typical of a large group of sculptures made according to Chinese fashion (shawl over the shoulders, lower garment gathered loosely and covering most of the lotus base) and a distinct Tibetan preference for non gilt metal.

 

15th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (USA).

 

Tibet, Akshobhya – buddha appearance (9)

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Akshobhya, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This rare item features Akshobhya  on a throne decorated with Yellow Jambhala seated at royal ease and holding his mongoose and citron, Black Jambhala, standing on the other side, and a four-hand form of Mahakala in the middle, holding a sword and a staff with a trident in his upper hands, a skull cup and a flaying knife in the others. Bonhams remind us that this form of pedestal was favoured by the Kagyu order between the 12th and 14th century.

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

This Akshobhya wears a sanghati with an incised hem.

Same as before, bronze with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Tibet, Akshobhya (2)

15th century, Tibet, Akshobhya, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Marcel Nies, published on http://www.asianart.com.

More often than not we have seen Akshobhya in his bodhisattva appearance, one hand in meditation the other touching the pedestal.

The above displays facial features and other elements characteristic of the Tsang region in Central Tibet. His tear-shaped urna is inlaid with turquoise and there is a flaming jewel on his chignon.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Akshobhya, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

On this example he still has an upright vajra sceptre in his left hand. His jewellery is inlaid with large stone and/or glass cabochons that correspond to the 17th century or later.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Akshobhya, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

When depicted as a buddha he may look just like the historical buddha, usually with a vajra sceptre before him on the pedestal…

Late 15th century, same as before, photo by Christie’s.

… or, on rarer occasions, like a ‘crowned buddha’, adorned in most cases with a low tiara decorated with rosettes and fastened with long ribbons.

 

 

 

Tibet, Vairochana – 4 faces (4)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vairochana, sarvavid form, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, possibly from Densatil, private collection, photo by Carlo Cristi.

Vairochana may have one, three or four heads, and from 2 to 8 hands. In his four-head form (vajradhatu) he usually has two hands, in which he holds an upright vajra sceptre or a wheel of dharma (dharmacakra). The above holds a wheel decorated with turquoise cabochons (much larger than those seen on sculptures from the former Densatil monastery) and sits on a lotus atop a stepped throne supported by long-life vases. He wears silk garments (shawl and  dhoti) draped in the Chinese fashion and princely jewllery inlaid with large stones.

Late 15th century, Tibet, Vairochana, gilt copper and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Here is an example with an upright vajra sceptre in his cupped hands. The long curly hair is gathered in a tall chignon and topped with a lotus flower and a flaming jewel.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vairochana, sarvavid form, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Koller.

On mandalas the four-head and two-hand form of Vairochana known as sarvavid is white and surrounded by deities including 16 bodhisattvas and the buddhas of the four directions.

Thus each head looks at one buddha and one direction.

 

 

Tibet, Amoghasiddhi – bodhisattva appearance (5)

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, copper alloy with cold gold, turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Amoghasiddhi is the dhyani buddha whose right hand does the teaching gesture (tip of the forefinger pressed on the tip of the thumb) as above, or the fear-allaying gesture, as below.

15th century, Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, bronze (copper alloy) with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

These Pala-inspired figures on a tall double-lotus base with plump apple-like petals correspond to a group of Tibetan brass sculptures thought to have been produced between the 13th and 15th century and often attributed to Western Tibet (rightly or wrongly).

Amoghasiddhi’s tall chignon is topped with a triple gem (triratna) finial. His scarf acts as a frame around him and is incised with a stippled lotus motif.

Undated (13th-14th c?), Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

We have seen at least two examples of Amoghasiddhi sculptures with a similar ‘gushing light’ design in the headdress, both dated 13th-14th century, signalling the sambhogakaya form of the deity.

Undated, Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, wood, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (UK).

A wooden sculpture of Amoghasiddhi with a key-hole aperture on the mandorla, the latter decorated with scrolling vine in the manner of the Densatil style.

18th century, Tibet, Amoghasiddhi, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.