Tibet, various buddhas (2)

15th century, Tibet, Dipankara or Shakyamuni, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Koller.

Buddha Dipankara/Dipamkara, the historical buddha said to have preceded Siddharta Gautama (know as Shakyamuni), is not normally found among Tibetan sculptures. On paintings, both may be seated and displaying the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Dipankara, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Hayman Himalayan Art.

He is popular in Nepal, where he is usually depicted standing and wearing a crown and a pleated skirt-like garment. The above figure has a crowned buddha appearance, which may include a necklace and earrings (but no armbands, bracelets or anklets).

16th-17th century, Tibet, buddha Dipankara (?), gilt brass, private collection, published on http://www.seercn.com.

Seated on a single lotus base often seen on 17th-18th century works, this buddha does the gesture of teaching/debate with his right hand and the meditation gesture with the other, neither of which are normally associated with Dipankara.

14th century, Tibet or China, Amitayus, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

It is generally accepted that Amithabha has a buddha appearance and holds a bowl while his other aspect, Amitayus, has a bodhisattva appearance and holds a long-life vase. However, we have seen various examples of the two aspects of the same deity being brought together. On this example, the design of the vase he holds doesn’t correspond to those commonly seen in Tibetan art.

16th century, Tibet, Vairocana, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Usually depicted with a bodhisattva appearance, Vairocana/Vairochana is identified by a gesture specific to him (see the page on hand gestures in the left-hand column of this blog) but he may also do the turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni or Vairocana, copper with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

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Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (6)

Possibly 13th-14th century, Tibet or India?, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This Pala-style figure depicts the most popular of the eight medicine buddhas, seated with his legs locked, his right hand palm out to hold an arura fruit (missing here), the left hand in the meditation gesture and supporting an object, normally a medicine bowl (which has often lost its lid or perhaps never had one). The hem of his robe is decorated with a small triangular pattern imitating sun rays.

Circa 14th century, Tibet or Nepal, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

The Nepalese style includes rich gilding, a lower pedestal and during the 13th-14th century buddhas may have rosettes above their ears. The use of copper alloy rather than copper and blue instead of black pigment in the hair points to a Nepalese artist in Tibet.

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

This late work illustrates changes in the way buddha’s garments are worn.

Described as a lotus and a skull cup, his attributes are in fact a long-stemmed arura fruit in his left hand (whose palm is engraved with a lotus within a diamond shape, matching the lotuses on the hem of his robe) and a bowl in his left hand.

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.

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.