Tibet, various female entities (2)

16th century, Tibet, Sankha, bronze, private collection, photo and explanations on Olympia Auctions .

A singular sculpture of a female character dancing on a lotus and holding a conch, understood by the auction house to be the embodiment of the conch, one of the auspicious symbols of Tibetan buddhism.

Circa 13th century, Western Tibet, female deity, solid cast bronze (brass) with stone inlay, (cold gold, pigment), private collection, photo by Koller, sale A191AS lot 103.

An elegant figure with floral and foliate jewellery and belt, her right hand in the fear-allaying gesture, wearing a long dhoti and shin adornments. 

18th-19th century, Tibet, Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal, wood, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 103 China 2.

Padmasambhava’s consort standing on a lotus pedestal. Mandarava has a skull cup in her right hand and does the kartari mudra with the other, she wears an upper and a lower garment, a long scarf, a headband with a large flower and a hat, some earrings and a necklace. Yeshe Tsogyal, who is sometimes regarded as a female buddha, only wears a lower garment and a long scarf. She is adorned with a crown, hoops and a necklace and may have held a skull cup or a vase in her missing hand.

13th century, Tibet, offering goddesses, gilt copper alloy with gems, photo taken by (Pietro Francesco) Mele at Tsetang in 1948, reproduced in an article by David Weldon . 

These four-arm goddesses hold a drum and a skull cup in their lower hands, they each have a different object in the upper right hand and do the fear-allaying gesture with the other. A ritual staff leans against their left shoulder.

16th century, Tibet, Densatil, apsaras, gilt bronze, private collection, photo Tessier-Sarrou .

Tibet, various female deities (8)

15th century, Tibet, Parnashavari, gilt copper with turquoise, coral, cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The three-headed forest goddess invoked to fight disease and epidemics is identified at once thanks to her lower garment made of leaves. She is depicted in her six-arm form, half kneeling and half crouching, holding an upright vajra sceptre before her heart. The missing implements are likely to be a bow, an arrow, an axe, a fan made of leaves, a lasso.

16th century, Tibet, Tashi Tseringma Chenga, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

18th century, Tibet, Tseringma, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR  .

This mountain (Mount Everest) goddess and mistress of long-life has a white body on paintings and always rides a white snow-lioness. Traditionally, she holds a nine-prong vajra sceptre in her right hand and a long-life vase in the other.

17th century, Tibet, Tashi Tseringma  (or not), white marble, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

One of her four sisters rides a wild ass (kiang) or a mare and holds a banner and a mirror or a drum and a long staff, but she has a blue body. The above has a pale body and holds a drum and a skull cup.

15th century, Tibet, Mahasitavati, metal, is or was at the Tashi Lhunpo monastery, photo on HAR .

Mahasitavati, one of the Pancha Raksha deities, seated on a lotus throne  and depicted in her three-head and six-arm form, holding a hook in her upper right hand and a manuscript in the other (instead of a garland, which she wears around her neck).

12th-13th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo on Bonhams, Honk Kong.

Unlike White Tara, this Pala-style figure has a square urna on her forehead and a lotus in the palm of her right hand, instead of an eye. She holds the stem of a blue/night lotus (utpala) in her left hand and there is a white/day lotus on her right side. It may be Vishvamata, or, given the early date of the work, White Tara depicted in the Atisha tradition.

Tibet, Shri Devi (10)

15th century, Tibet, Densatil, Lhamo, copper alloy, photo by Bruce M. White on Michael Carlos Collection at the Emory University in Atlanta (USA).

This is probably Dorje Rabtenma, who sits on a prostrate kiang, brandishes a sword (of which only the hilt remains) in her right hand and holds a mongoose in her left hand (missing here). She is adorned with a skull crown, a garland of severed heads, snakes and bone jewellery. Around her are 17 deities with a yaksha appearance (9 to her right and 8 to her left), five of them seated on a prostrate kiang like her, a sixth riding a bird, the others seated in a relaxed manner on a lotus, most of them holding a skull cup and a flaying knife (see close up on Himalayan Art Resources ).

18th century, Tibet or Mongolia, Shri Devi, brass with cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Also with 1 head and 2 hands, the popular Magzor Gyalmo rides her mount across a sea of blood, on the surface of which body parts are floating. She sits sideways, using the hide of her son as a saddle, and holds a vajra-tipped sandalwood staff in her right hand and a skull cup full of magical weapons in the other, at heart level. She is further identified by the crescent moon in her hair, the parasol on top of it, and the sun disc over her navel.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, painted stone, private collection, photo on Lot Art  .

Magzor Gyalmo, her skin blue-black, her orange flaming hair topped with a parasol.

18th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, gilt bronze with stones and pigment, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s  .

Magzor Gyalmo, adorned with a skull crown, a garland of severed heads, snakes and bone jewellery, her magical weapons tied with snakes to her kiang: a couple of dice, a bag of disease and a bundle of red curses (under her right foot), a ball of variegated wool (under her left foot), a tally stick i usually attached to her girdle.

15th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, stone with pigments, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Dudsolma, the four-arm form of Palden Lhamo, protectress of Tibet and patron of Lhasa, also sits sideways on a kiang (or a donkey or mule) crossing a sea of blood, using the hide of her dead son as a saddle and displaying her magical weapons. Her attributes vary but always include a skull cup in one of her lower hands. The above holds a sword and a spear in her upper hands, a flaying knife in the lower left hand.

Tibet, Sarvabuddha Dakini (11)

18th century, Tibet, Dakini, gilt bronze, private collection, lot 274 Asian Art 11th June 2009, Paris, Sotheby’s.

Sarvabuddhadakini, standing with both feet on 2 (missing) victims, holding a flaying knife downward and raising a skull cup filled with menstrual blood to her lips, her head always turned towards it, naked, adorned with a bone apron, bone ornaments and a garland of skulls (instead of the garland of severed heads seen on earlier works).

18th century, Tibet or Tibeto-Chinese,
Naro Dakini, copper, silver, cold gold and pigments, 1st April 2005, Indian & Southeast Asian Art, lot 73, New York, Sotheby’s.

This form of Vajrayogini is much revered in Tibet where she is also known as Naro Dakini, Naro Khecho, Naropa Khechara, Narokhachoma, Naro Khachod, or the Khechari of Naropa, after the famous Indian teacher (mahasiddha) Naropa.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddha Dakini, polychrome copper repoussé, 20th September 2002, Indian & Southeast Asian Art, lot 55, New York, Sotheby’s.

She often has a ritual staff in the crook of her left arm.

18th-19th century, tibet, Sarvabuddha Dakini, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Galerie Moderne  .

Tibet, various dakinis (6)

16th-17th century, Tibet, eight dakinis? (labelled ‘the 8 avatars of Dharmapala’), gilt copper repoussé, private collection, on Tessier-Sarrou .

All these deities stand in a dancing pose, with their left foot crushing a victim. From top to bottom, the three figures on the right hold a flaying knife, a skull cup and a ritual staff (like Vajradakini/Vajrayogini); the middle figure on the top row appears to do the same.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vetali?, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, Art d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 34, Tessier-Sarrou.

The first figure at the top, from the left, holds a tortoise in her right hand and a skull cup in the other, like Vetali, one of the Eight Great Dakinis (matarah).

16th-17th century, Tibet, Visvadakini?, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, Art d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 34, Tessier-Sarrou.

The one below holds a visvajra before her heart and seems to be doing a threatening gesture with her left hand (tarjani mudra).

16th-17th century, Tibet, Pukkasi?, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, Art d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 34, Tessier-Sarrou.

The female figure next to her holds an axe in her left hand and a snow lion in the other, like Pukkasi.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Ghasmani?, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, Art d’Asie 16th December 2019, lot 34, Tessier-Sarrou.

The first dakini on the bottom row holds a snake and a skull cup, like Ghasmani.

Tibet, various dakinis (5)

18th century, Tibet, Kurukulla, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Bonhams

In her four-arm form Kurukulla usually holds a bow, often shaped like a blue lotus, and an arrow in her upper hands (both missing here). She may clutch a lasso, a vajra sceptre, a skull cup or the stem of a blue lotus (as is the case here) in her lower left hand. The lower right hand holds a vajra-tipped hook/elephant goad. She is adorned with bone jewellery and a matching apron, a five-skull crown, a garland of severed heads.

Undated, Tibet, Kurukulla, (copper alloy with silver, cold gold and pigments), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

On  this example there is a skull cup in her lower left hand.

Undated (Pala period), Tibet, Savari, bronze, photo by Gilles Béguin, 1976, is or was at Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

Savari/Sabari, one of the eight great dakinis, is identified by the effigy of a monk in her right hand and the khakkhara (monk staff) in the other.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Savari (labelled ‘dancing deity’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9822 lot 68, London.

A late Malla-style example, holding a skull cup containing the effigy of a monk, her staff missing.

Tibet, Vajrayogini (3)

13th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi, copper, private collection, photo Woolley and Wallis

Vajrayogini in her Vajravarahi form, with a sow’s head protruding from her right temple, standing in a dancing pose and crushing a victim with her left foot, wielding a flaying knife and holding a skull cup before her. She is adorned with a five-skull tiara, bone jewellery and a garland of severed heads. What rests on her left shoulder is likely to be part of a ritual staff now missing.

18th century, Tibet, Vajravarahi (labelled ‘dakini’), bronze, private collection, photo on Antique Zen 

This form of Vajrayogini always faces the viewer.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrayogini (labelled ‘dakini’), bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Florence Number Nine.

A similar form without the sow’s head, also known as Vajradakini.