Tibet, Naro Khechara (6)

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

This form of Vajrayogini is always portrayed as a young woman, naked, looking sideways towards the skull cup filled with menstrual blood which she raises to her lips, holding a flaying knife in her right hand lowered down. She may be adorned with a skull crown and a bone apron and she treads on one or two victims.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddhadakini, bronze, private collection, published on http://www.bumpercollection.org.

She has long hair, combed back.

Mid 17th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddhadakini, gilt copper repoussé with cast hands, feet and head, private collection, published on http://www.bumpercollection.org

The head is tilted to drink the blood from the cup.

18th century circa, same as before.

The right hand is held palm outwards.

18th century circa, same as before.

In Tibet she is known under various names linked to Naropa (Naro Dakini, Naro Khechara, etc.)

Undated (18th century?), Tibet, Naro Khechara, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

She often wears a garland of fifty freshly severed heads. The above wears skulls instead, and Chinese-style jewellery and accessories including a cross-belt.

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Tibet, Vajravarahi (10)

14th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper alloy with stone (and coral) inlay, private collection, photo by Bnohams.

Almost identical to a 14th century Tibetan sculpture published previously, Vajravarahi is identified through the sow’s head sticking out of her right temple. On this occasion, her earrings are inlaid with coral cabochons and her shorter necklace is studded with turquoise.

Same as before, photo by Christie’s.

The deity’s celestial scarf often forms a frame around her. She wears a five-skull crown, a garland of fifty freshly severed heads and bone ornaments, and holds a flaying knife, a skull cup, and a ritual staff in the crook of her left arm.

15th century, Central Tibet, Vajravarahi, copper alloy and pigments, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

This dark bronze shows her with cold gold on the face and red pigment on the hair, her raised knee resting against a lotus stemming from the base on which there is no victim. Her belt is incised with a geometrical motif, the contours of the festoons and pendants are engraved rather than sculpted. The same technique has been applied to the seams of her lower garment.

Same, stone, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A stone version, complete with flaming arch and lotus base, her left foot treading on Kalaratri, which represents the ego.

16th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Werner Forman, formerly Philip Goldman collection, published on Werner Forman Archive.

On this work, the artist has used silver inlay for the rim of her crown, her hair ornament, belt, bracelets and anklets, and probably for her eyes and teeth.

17th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, bronze (gilt copper alloy), same as before.

 

Tibet, Naro Khechara (5)

17th-18th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddha dakini, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published by Lemper

17th-18th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddha dakini, copper alloy, private collection, published by Lempertz.

A Chinese-style image of the Naro Khechara form of Vajrayogini, raising a skull cup filled with menstrual blood to her mouth, the flaying knife missing from her left hand, adorned with skull crown, bone ornaments, garland of severed heads, cross belt with dangling heads and a matching belt. There are traces of gilding on her face and crown.

Undated, Tibet, same as before, at the Beijing Museum (China).

Undated (16th-17th century?), Tibet, gilt metal, at the Beijing Museum (China).

A similar work, complete with Yongle-style single lotus pedestal.

Undated, Tibet, Sarvabuddha dakini, copper alloy, at the Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

Undated (19th century?), Tibet, Sarvabuddha dakini, copper alloy, at the Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

Her attributes are missing but her youth, nakedness, loose hair and the way she stands sideways with a hand raised to her mouth indicate that this is Naro Khechara.

Tibet, Vajrayogini – variants (3)

15th century, Tibet, labelled Vajravarahi, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

15th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

She holds a flaying knife and skull cup, and is adorned with a skull crown, garland of severed heads and bone jewellery and apron. She stands on a victim who raises a knee. Presumably, the adornment in her headdress is the head of a sow, which identifies her as the Vajravarahi form of Vajrayogini.

15th century, Tibet, labelled Vajravarahi, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

15th century, Tibet, labelled Vajravarahi, copper alloy, Navin Kumar collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources. On another page of the same website, labelled 1600-1699, Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

In the absence of a sow’s head or snout in her headdress or on the right side of the face, we are looking at another form of Vajrayogini. A celestial scarf frames her head and swirls around her arms, a sash floats over her hips, some vegetation  (probably lotuses) springs from the base. Her hair is fastened into a chignon topped with a finial.

18th century, Tibet, labelled Vajravarahi, painted wood and lacquer, published by the Liebermann gallery.

18th century, Tibet, labelled Vajravarahi, painted wood and lacquer, published by the Liebermann gallery.

On this more recent work Vajrayogini, surrounded with flames, steps on two victims (Kalaratri and Bhairava) and wears a Chinese-style cross belt.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini, silver with parcel gilt copper alloy, at the Art Insitute of Chicago (USA).

18th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini (formerly labelled ‘dakini’), silver with parcel gilt copper alloy, at the Art Insitute of Chicago (USA).

She holds a rosary (not normally associated with her) in her right hand and raises a skull cup to her mouth, her head topped with a half-vajra. The ritual staff normally propped against her left shoulder is fastened to the back of her other shoulder. She wears a garland of skulls -instead of severed heads -,  a festooned breast ornament and an adaptation of the traditional bone apron, plain armbands, bracelets and anklets. There are no victims under her feet, both touching the base.

Tibet, Vajravarahi (9)

18th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

18th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

On occasions, this form of Vajrayogini has the head of a wild boar instead of having the snout or part of the head sticking out of her own. The above is a rare four-armed form of the deity, holding a skull cup and a ritual staff in her left hands, a vajra sceptre and an elephant goad (vajra hook) in her right hands.

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Her face has been painted with cold cold and pigments. She is adorned with Indian-style jewellery and festooned belt, a skull crown and a garland of severed heads.

18th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

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

This Chinese-style variant depicts her holding a skull cup and a flaying knife in her main hands, a drum in her top right hand. The top left hand displays the karana mudra, a gesture to ward off evil, and may have held an object, now missing. She wears a tiger skin dhoti and a celestial scarf with snake-like ends.

Tibet, Vajravarahi (8)

15th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper with cold gold and pigments, at the Potala (Tibet).

15th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper with cold gold and pigments, at the Potala (Tibet).

She stands on a victim with her left foot, holding a skull cup and a flaying knife. The snout of a female wild boar sticks out of her right temple. She wears a crown, bone apron, celestial scarf and jewellery richly inlaid with stones and coral, and a garland of severed heads. Her youthful face is painted with cold gold and her hair dyed with lapis lazuli powder.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, gilt copper, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

The above has a more wrathful expression and wears a five-skull crown, a garland of severed heads, bone jewellery including floral earrings and a matching necklace, armbands and belt.

16th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, copper alloy, private collection.

16th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, copper alloy, private collection.

On this example, we can clearly see a sow’s head attached to hers. She carries a ritual staff against her left shoulder. Her upper fangs are biting her lower lip.

17th century circa, Western Tibet, Vajravarahi, silver with copper inlay, the Buckingham Collection.

17th century circa, Western Tibet, Vajravarahi, silver with copper inlay, The Buckingham collections.

The style of the lotus that supports her right knee, the design of her necklace and belt and the stepped base are all 17th century circa elements. She treads on a large-size victim, a feature  that seems proper to various forms of Vajravarahi made in Tibet, especially during the 17th and 18th century.

17th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, polychrome and gilt wood, private collection, photo by Christie's.

17th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, polychrome and gilt wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this wooden sculpture she has a garland of fifty skulls (instead of freshly severed heads). She stands on the backside of a prostrate female figure likely to be Kalaratri, who represents the Ego.

Tibet, Vajrayogini – variants (2)

15th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

15th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This powerful work depicts her as a young girl, naked, adorned with bone ornaments, brandishing a with a five-prong vajra sceptre (instead of a flaying knife) which she holds above her head, the right leg fully extended. There is a skull cup in her left hand.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini, possibly Maitri Kachod form, bronze, same as before.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini, possibly Maitri Kachod form, bronze, same as before.

Another image full of movement, with two victims on the base and a stupa at the top of the flaming arch, the deity holding a five-prong vajra sceptre and a skull cup raised above her head, a ritual staff resting against her left shoulder.

17th-c-tibet-vajrayogini-bronze-17-cm-close-rubin-moa

She has a youthful appearance and wears bone jewellery and apron.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay and pigments, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

18th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay and pigments, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

This  very wrathful ‘Pala-revival’ Vajrayogini stands on a single victim over a tall lotus pedestal, surrounded with flames, the arch topped with a triratna (set of three jewels), her hair gathered in a tall chignon, adorned with a skull-crown, bone jewellery and belt, a garland of severed heads.

18th-c-tibet-vajrayogini-gilt-c-a-stonespig-1570-cm-close-royal-ontario-m

She holds a skull cup filled with blood and a vajra sceptre. There are raining-jewel pendants on her belt, which is inlaid with gemstones. Her large earrings consist in a perforated disc with a triratna at the bottom.