Tibet, mahasiddhas – unidentified (9)

14th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This tantric practitioner with matted hair may have held a vajra sceptre in his right hand. He is adorned with a necklace and wears a long dhoti and a garment barely covering his left shoulder.

15th-16th century (or later?), Tibet, labelled ‘Virupa’, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Origin Expert, 21st July 2013 lot 231.

This Chinese-style work depicts a character with a third eye, flaming hair, a skull crown, silk garments, the upper one with sleeves, bone jewellery and a cross belt, no yogic strap. He wields a vajra sceptre in his right hand and holds a skull cup before his heart (none of which corresponds to standard images of Virupa).

16th century, Tibet, labelled ‘Mahasiddha Virupa’, gilt bronze with sliver, coral and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Galerie Zacke .

A completely different style, and singular if indeed it is a portrait of Virupa. His hair is gathered in a small bun, he wears a four-pointed cap reminiscent of early Kashmiri works, a small tiara and some earrings, all of them inlaid with large cabochons, no floral accessories or yogic belt, his hands are in the gesture of meditation.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17457.

This elderly man with an elongated torso and long limbs (typical of 17th century Tibet) is seated with a leg pendant, atop a lotus seat with an elaborate plinth. We have come across several unidentified mahasiddhas with a similar ovoid container next to them. Both the base and the lid have the shape of a lotus flower.

Tibet, lamas with attributes (5)

Circa 16th century, Tibet, lama, zitan wood (red sandalwood), private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 4.

17th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Leonard Joel.

17th c., Tibet, lama, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s  .

Many lamas are depicted with a manuscript/book in their left hand. The above has silver-inlaid eyes and wears sumptuous silk garments embroidered with the Chinese symbol of longevity (shou ).

Circa 17th century, Tibet, lama, papier mâché, private collection, photo on Bonhams   .

This elderly lama with felt boots holds a rosary in his left hand.

18th century, Tibet, lama, parcel-gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Skinner .

This one has a book in his right hand and a cup filled with amrita in the other.

Tibet, mahasiddhas – unidentified (8)

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt copper, private collection, published on Artkhade.

Mahasiddhas nearly always have their hair fastened in a topknot. They occasionally wear it loose over their shoulders or piled up on their head. Seen from the front, this man has short curly hair (which may be long at the back). The wide gaze and the cross-belt indicate that he was a yogi.

16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt metal, private collection, item 203934 on HAR.

Seated in a relaxed posture, the above leans on his left arm and holds a skull cup filled with blood in the other. He is adorned with a floral tiara and bone ornaments including the traditional cross-belt with a large flower at the centre.

18th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, painted clay, private collection, photo by  Galerie Zacke

An elderly man seated on the skin of an antelope (identified by the hooves) and wearing a long garment. He holds a vase of longevity against his chest and may have had another attribute in his left hand.

Tibet, mahasiddhas – unidentified (7)

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This mahasiddha (or Tibetan teacher with a mahasiddha appearance) is seated on an antelope skin with his legs locked and holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a skull cup in the other. He wears the usual bone jewellery and spiral-shaped shell earrings.

15th-16th century? (labelled 10th century), Tibet, Mahasiddha, bronze with traces of gilding, photo by Altair Auctions, on Live auctioneers

The left hand does a pointing gesture, the right hand probably held a vajra sceptre.

16th century (or later?), Tibet, mahasiddha, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, published on Go antiques

Like the famous Tibetan teacher Tsang Nyon Heruka, this mahasiddha (or Tibetan yogi with a mahasiddha appearance) has his hair gathered in a prominent bun.

15th-16th century (or 16th-17th c?), Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt copper (alloy) with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Uppsala.

Seated on a human hide, the above holds a skull cup in his left hand and may have had a vajra sceptre in the other. A vase of longevity is placed on a lotus attached to the base.

17th century, Himalayan region, mahasiddha (now labelled ‘Tibet, 1500-1599, Padampa Sangye on HAR), gilt metal, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA), photo on HAR

This gesture of salute is associated with Dampa Sangye but the sculpture has not been identified as such. He appears to be holding lotus buds in his left hand and there is a skull cup before him.

Tibet, mahasiddhas – unidentified (6)

17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, copper alloy, at the Dallas Museum of Art (USA).

17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha (formerly labelled ‘Naropa’), copper alloy, at the Dallas Museum of Art (USA).

This Indian tantric adept is seated on a tiger skin, on an unusual Pala-style lotus base with an incised plinth with legs. He is adorned with floral jewellery and a cross-belt and does the dharmacakra mudra. There is a silver-inlaid urna on his forehead.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, copper alloy with cold gold and turquoise, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

This curiously shaped character with very short legs holds a vajra sceptre and a bowl. He is adorned with bone jewellery, large earrings, florets above his ears and a belt with a ‘raining jewel’ pendant, these last two features borrowed from Nepalese art.

17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, wood, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This striking character with a five-skull crown holds what may be fish guts in his right hand while doing a pointing gesture with the other.

18th century, Tibet, Siddha, lacquered wood, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Tibet, mahasiddhas – unidentified (5)

12th century, Tibet or Nepal, Mahasiddha, possibly Krishnacharya (Kanha), gilt copper and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The Indian adept holds a skull cup in his right hand and seems to have had another object in his left hand, possibly a drum or a vajra sceptre judging by the way he holds it. This iconography corresponds to various famous mahasiddhas, and some can be depicted in several ways so it is difficult to identify them without an inscription on the base.

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha (possibly Dampa Sangye), bronze (copper alloy) and pigments private collection.

17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and red pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This wrathful figure wears a leopard skin loincloth and has a human hide on his back. He holds a stick topped with a skull and may have had a skull cup in his left hand. The position of his legs suggests he was riding a mount, now missing and he uses a human being as a saddle. Some figures labelled ‘mahasiddha‘ are depicted with a semi-wrathful face and blue hair. This one has red flaming hair and looks rather like a wrathful deity (possibly Yama?).

18th century, Tibet (?), gilt bronze (copper alloy), Mahasiddha (?), private collection photo by Christie’s here.

An unusual sculpture of a bearded man wearing a conical headdress, his right hand doing the teaching gesture, the other holding a manuscript, seated on an oval lotus base with incised petals, over a stepped rectangular plinth.

Tibet, mahasiddhas – unidentified (4)

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction.

A character with a topknot and a beard, a skull crown, bone jewellery with a floral design and a matching cross belt, a skull cup in his left hand and a vessel in the other.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with paint, at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Mahasiddhas are often shown wearing earplugs. The above holds a skull cup at heart level in his right hand and may have had another attribute in his left hand.