Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (5)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The medicine buddha holds the stem of an arura fruit (Terminalia Chebula) in his right hand. His left hand, in the meditation gesture, would have held a bowl.

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

15th-16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel auctions.

This one holds a small fruit and a medicine jar with a lid.

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His hair is made of very large beading set wide apart. There is a particularly large raised urna on his forehead.

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

This curious buddha with noticeable eyebrows, holds a smooth egg-shaped fruit and a small medicine jar with a lid, the hem of his sanghati and inner robe are decorated with beading and piping.

same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Another type of draping, broad hems decorated with an incised pattern, a turquoise-inlaid urna and elongated earlobes.

18th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

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Tibet, Vajravidarana

11th-12th century, Tibet, Vajravidarana, yellow silt stone, private collection, photo by Christie's.

11th-12th century, Tibet, Vajravidarana, yellow silt stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Vajravidarana is a male meditational deity with a bodhisattva appearance very similar to Vajrasattva but he holds a visvajra (double thunderbolt sceptre) in his right hand.

14th-14th c., Tibet or Nepal, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

14th-15th c., Tibet or Nepal, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Undated, Tibet, Vajravidarana, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection.

Undated, Tibet, Vajravidarana, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection.

15th century, Tibet, Vajravidarana, gilt copper with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on artkhade.com

15th century, Tibet (Xuande/Yongle style), Vajravidarana, gilt copper with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on artkhade.com

On paintings, he is either white  and peaceful, as the four figures above,

14th century, Tibet, Vajravidarana, green form, stone, photo by Hollywood Galleries, published on asianart.com

14th century, Tibet, Vajravidarana, green form, stone, photo by Hollywood Galleries, published on asianart.com.

or green and semi-wrathful –  this one doesn’t look very wrathful but he is definitely green! (Note that his legs are not in the vajra position).

Undated, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, at the American Museum of National History (USA).

Undated, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, at the American Museum of National History (USA).

Here is a semi-wrathful one, with frowning eyebrows.

Undated (16th century circa?), Vajravidarana, blue, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajravidarana, blue, private collection, photo by Bonhams, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The third form is blue.

He is standing on two victims, adorned with a skull crown and a garland of severed heads, brandishing the visvajra like a weapon, wearing an animal skin as a loin cloth, snake ornaments and a vajra pendant across his chest.

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He also wears a human hide and an animal skin over his back.

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Undated (13th c?), same as before.

Tibet, various buddhas

15th-16th century, Tibet, Ashkattamshri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Ashokattamshri, gilt copper alloy, inscription on the base, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

One of the eight medicine buddhas, Ashokattamshri holds both hands in the meditation gesture (like Amitabha but without a bowl). The above wears a patched monastic robe with a broad hem decorated with an incised pattern.

17th century, Tibet, Anantatejas, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

17th century, Tibet, Anantatejas, gilt copper alloy, inscription on the base, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Anantatejas is one of the thirty-five confession buddhas. He holds his left hand in the meditation gesture and the other is extended palm out (like Ratnasambhava but without a gem in the palm).

18th century, Tibet, confession buddha, probably Viranandi, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

18th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, confession buddha, probably Viranandi, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

Viranandi holds the stem of a lotus in his left hand and a sun disc in the other (unless it is a full moon, in which case it would be Brahmadatta).

16th century, Tibet, Nagaraja, bronze and pigment, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Swtizerland).

16th century, Tibet, Nagaraja, bronze and pigment, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Swtizerland).

Buddha Nagaraja is easily recognisable through his hood made of seven snakes. He holds his hands at heart level in a gesture specific to him.

17th century circa, Tibet, Suvikranta jina, confession buddha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

17th century circa, Tibet, Suvikranta jina, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Licchavi-revival sculptures, a style that was popular in Tibet around the 17th century, depicts one of the confession buddhas, identified through an inscription on the back.

18th-19th c., Tibet, confession buddha, gilt copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

18th-19th c., Tibet, confession buddha, gilt copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

On the very useful Himalayan Art Resources website, Jeff Watts explains that there are various ways of depicting the 35 confession buddhas. They may simply have particular hand gestures, or they may hold an attribute. Some of them have the same hand gestures as the five dhyani buddhas. The main figure at the centre – and part of the set of 35 –  is usually Shakyamuni, but it can be Nageshvara Raja (also known as Nagaraja, not to be confused with the historical character of the same name). Occasionally, Maitreya and Amitabha are added. With sculptures, unless there is an inscription on the base, identification is often very difficult because there is no body colour to go by and because sets have often been split and various buddhas have the same iconography.

 

 

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (4)

14th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum.

14th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA).

With no bowl or arura fruit in his hands, the iconography is similar to that of Ratnasambhava, but the latter is almost always depicted in a bodhisattva form, and some of the fingers are raised as if to hold an object so we assume we are looking at the medicine buddha.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is clearly him, holding his attributes, his sanghati draped so as to cover both shoulders while leaving an arm free.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA).

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA).

The above has turquoise-inlaid rosettes and urna, and there is also a turquoise cabochon at the tip of his garment, over his left shoulder.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, copper alloy, at the Stockholm Museum of World Cultures (Sweden).

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, copper alloy, at the Världskultur Museerna in Stockholm (Sweden).

On this Pala-revival version, Bhaisajyaguru holds the stem of a plant (presumably an arura) in his right hand and a medicine bowl in the other.

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His hair is arranged in concentric rows of thick curls topped with a chignon and a lotus bud finial.

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (3)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Medicine bowl and arura fruit in hand, his chignon topped with a lotus bud finial, Bhaisajyaguru seems to tell us he has a remedy for every ailment.

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel auctions.

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel auctions.

This is a similar style, with thick beading on the hem of his sanghati.

Same as before, photo by Sotheby's.

Same as before, photo by Sotheby’s.

Here, the robe is draped in the Chinese fashion and has a broad hem decorated with incisions and beading. His medicine pot comes complete with a lid.

18th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

A sturdy figure with big limbs, thick hair curls, a large urna and finial, his garments wrapping his body tightly, the hem decorated with an incised pattern, reminiscent of earlier Khasa Malla works.

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (2)

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Bhaisajyaguru holds a medicine jar in his left hand and a small arura fruit in the other.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Arura (often called ‘myrobalan’, which is a generic term referring to various plants) is used in Tibetan medicine for its healing properties. The above figure holds a particularly large fruit. On most sculptures the fruit looks like a large seed in the palm of his hand.

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

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

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He normally has a raised urna on his forehead (which is meant to be a lock of hair, not a third eye).

Undated (18th century?), probably Tibeto-Chinese, Bhaisajyaguru, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Undated (18th century?), probably Tibeto-Chinese, Bhaisajyaguru, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

 

 

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru

Of the 8 medicine buddhas, Bhaisajyaguru (named after a sutra) is the main one. He may be alone or with the other medicine buddhas and Shakyamuni or with Prajnaparamita, or in a set of 51 deities. He has one head, two hands, and wears monastic garments.

12th century circa, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

12th century circa, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This rare work depicts him seated on a brocaded cushion over a tall double-lotus base typical of Pala India. The eyes are inlaid with silver, the lips, nails, hem of the sanghati, and other features are inlaid with copper.

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The lotus petals go round the back of the pedestal.

12th-c-cir-tibet-bhaisajyaguru-c-a-si-cop-inlay-148-cm-pala-style-detail-of-inlay-bonhams

There is a leonine face with copper-inlaid eyes at the front of the cushion. In some texts, he is said to hold a lotus in each hand but here he only holds flowers in his right hand.

13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

More often, he is shown holding a begging bowl in his left hand held in the meditation gesture and a fruit in the palm of his right hand.

Undated (probably 14th century), Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (probably 14th century), Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

His head is always topped with a lotus bud finial.

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15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The fruit he holds is a variety of myrobalan known as arura. The above wears his sanghati over both shoulders although the right arm and breast are uncovered. The hem is decorated with beading and an incised geometrical pattern. The lower part of the lotus base is decorated with incised scrolls.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, same as before.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, same as before.