Tibet, Virupa – variants (5)

13th century, Tibet or China, Mahasiddha Virupa, metal (with cold gold and pigments), at the Lima Lakhang of the Potala in Lhasa (Tibet), inv. 1573, Nepalese artist, published by Ulrich von Schroeder, 1994.

The Indian master raises his left hand to stop the course of the Sun while holding a skull cup in the other. His raised knee is held in place with a meditation strap, his right elbow leans on an element built in the arch. A female attendant offers him a bowl (of food, presumably). His hair is adorned with a floral tiara, an anti-caste symbol.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet?, Indian adept Virupa, (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Raising his right hand towards the Sun and holding a skull cup in the other hand, his right leg pendant, the knee loosely held by a meditation strap, the foot placed on a lotus sprouting from the plinth of the lotus base, which is covered with an antelope skin. He wears a garland of flowers and matching accessories, his topknot is decorated with a half vajra finial. There is a large vessel next to him.

Indian adept Virupa, (16th century?, Tibet?), metal (gilt copper or copper alloy with stone inlay), private collection, photo on HAR

Leaning on his right arm, his legs not quite locked, the left arm pointing to the Sun, a ritual vase topped with a skull cup placed before him. He is adorned with large hoops, a floral tiara, bone jewellery inlaid with turquoise, a cross-belt; his hair is rolled in a top knot decorated with a floral finial. The animal skin on the seat seems to have (tiger or leopard) claws rather than hooves.

16th century, Tibet, Indian adept Virupa, metal (copper alloy with a high copper content), private collection, photo on HAR 

A particularly ornate image of the mahasiddha seated in the royal ease position, no meditation belt or animal skin, adorned with large floral earrings, matching garland and cross-belt, princely jewellery and festooned belt, a manuscript secured in his topknot.

16th century, Tibet, Indian adept Virupa, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR

A rare example of him displaying a pill between thumb and forefinger. He is seated on an antelope skin with his feet crossed, adorned with large floral and princely accessories, a manuscript tucked into his topknot.

16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt metal, at the Chhatrapati Shivaij Museum in Mumbai (India), photo on HAR

Seated on an antelope skin, ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ with his hands.

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Tibet, Virupa – variants (4)

16th century, Tibet, Virupa, bronze, private collection, photo by Mossgreen .

Seated at royal ease on an antelope skin, a skull cup in his left hand at heart level, his right hand raised in a gestures specific to him (similar to the karana mudra but the tips are not touching, the thumb is usually under the middle finger). He has a book inside his topknot and a meditation strap around his raised knee. The lower rim of the lotus base has a chased rice grain pattern.

Undated, Tibet, Virupa, bronze, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources item 5064.

18th century (labelled 16th c. on HAR), Tibet, Virupa, gilt bronze, at the Shivaji Museum in Mumbai (India), Photo Dharma on wikimedia

On this later work the thumb is over the middle finger.

Undated (15th century?), Central Tibet, Tsang province, brass, at the Rietberg Museum (Switzerland), photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Leaning on his right arm while his left hand does the same gesture to stop the course of the Sun, facing the viewer. He is adorned with the usual floral tiara, garland and matching jewellery. We saw a very similar sculpture that was dated 15th century by Bonhams.

16th century, Tibet, Virupa, bronze, private collection, photo by Hanhai Auction published on  HAR.

The same pose but looking up, towards the Sun. The silk scarf or shawl across his shoulders helps date the work.

16th century, Tibet, Virupa, bronze with silver inlay, Alan Naftalis collection, also on Himalayan Art Resources HAR.

16th century, Tibet, Virupa, gilt bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Christie’s Christie’s.

Seated in a yogic posture, his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, part of his hair drawn into a topknot, Virupa’s wide gaze is enhanced by the use of silver.

17th century, Tibet, Virupa (labelled ‘ Tsang Nyon Heruka’), copper alloy, private collection, photo on Drouot

16th-17th century, Tibet, Virupa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on  Christie’s.

We saw this sculpture before but with cold gold and pigments on the face (see HAR)

Tibet, Virupa – variants (3)

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Virupa, gilt metal with pigments, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Virupa, seated at ease, leaning on one arm and raising the other sideways in a pointing gesture (to stop the course of the sun), adorned with a garland of flowers, floral crown and armbands, a meditation strap holding his left knee.

16th century, Tibet, Virupa, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel .

Instead of leaning on his arm, he may hold a skull cup in his hand. The above is seated on an antelope or deer skin facing sideways, atop a big brocaded cushion.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Virupa, stone, private collection, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts.

He may also do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture. On this rare stone example he sits with his legs crossed, on a throne covered with an antelope skin, the head of the animal facing the viewer; the middle recess contains three round jewels.

16th century, Tibet, Virupa, bronze (copper alloy) with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Nagel.

A striking sculpture, probably from the Tsang province in Central Tibet, with large silver-inlaid eyes…

… and a loin cloth decorated with a chased cloud motif.

16th century style but probably later, Tibet, Virupa (labelled ‘buddha’), copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Tooveys.

Tibet, Virupa – variants (2)

16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, at the Mindrolling monastery, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Like other mahasiddhas, Virupa may be depicted in a number of ways. He sometimes ‘turns the wheel of dharma‘ with his hands like the above figure seated on a tiger skin.

Undated, (Tibet or Nepal), Mahasiddha Virupa, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources HAR.

Alternatively he leans on one hand and raises the other towards the sky to stop the course of the Sun.

Undated, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, metal (with traces of cold gold), private collection, as before, HAR .

He may also hold a skull cup in one hand. On this more ‘modern’ sculpture fashioned in the style of the 16th century he wears a floral tiara and matching garland.

Tibet, Virupa – variants

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

By far the most commonly depicted mahasiddha, Virupa is seen here with his hands in the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, seated on an antelope skin over an unusual lotus base with tiny petals incised on the upper tier, a long-life vase placed to his left, a small medicine jar with a lid on the other side.

The artist has used silver inlay for his eyes, teeth, and part of his dhoti, which is incised with a floral motif.

Undated (circa 16th century), Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

An almost life-like portrait with a similar iconography, the eyes and teeth inlaid with silver, the hair adorned with a floral tiara, the body adorned with jewellery, a cross belt and a long garland of flowers. The artist has taken great care with every detail, including his fingers and toes, and the hair on the skin of the antelope.

Undated (15th or 16th century), origin not specified (probably Tibet), Mahasiddha Virupa, brass with silver and copper inlay, at a mountain sanctuary, private collection, published on Himalayan Buddhist Art.

This singular image of Virupa shows him with both hands in prayer, his legs held together with a meditation strap, adorned with flowers.

15th century, same, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Most Tibetan sculptures of Virupa depict him with one hand raised, to stop the course of the Sun. The other hand may hold a skull cup or rest on the lotus base, as above. The yogic strap holds his raised knee.

Undated (15th or 16th century) , Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He doesn’t always have a meditation band but is usually adorned with large flowers (tiara, earrings, garland etc.).

16th century, Central Tibet, Tsang atelier, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The Chinese-style cross belt with one or more pendants is typical of the 16th century onwards. It usually goes with beaded bone jewellery. His eyes and teeth are inlaid with silver. A large floral tiara with floral bows and ribbons adorns his hair.

Undated (15th or 16th century), Central Tibet, Tsang atelier, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Alternatively, instead of leaning against one hand he holds a skull cup in it, and raises the other. The above sits on the skin of an antelope with twisted horns. His eyes are inlaid with silver, his hair fastened in a thick top knot and embellished with a floral tiara.

Tibet, Virupa (11)

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Virupa is seated on a single-lotus base with fat curly petals typical of the Chinese Yongle style (15th century). Apart from the pedestal, there are other elements that point to the work of a Chinese artist in Tibet or for a Tibetan patron (i.e. a Sino-Tibetan sculpture). His dhoti is richly embossed (rather than incised) with a linear floral motif…

Mahasiddha Virupa, 15th c., Tibet (Chinese artist?), c.a.+cold gold+pig., face

… he wears Chinese-style jewellery, including round earrings with a floral motif (rather than hoops) and a festooned necklace. His eyebrows (and also his moustache and beard) are curly.

17th century, same as before, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

17th century, same as before, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A very similar but more recent work, with a few variants (and with the gilding intact).

Mahasiddha Virupa, 17th c., Tibet (Chinese artist?), gilt c.a.+cold g, face

The beard has been painted black and the eyebrows, eyes and eyelashes in a lighter blue than the hair (traditionally painted with lapis lazuli powder). He seems to have no moustache or urna.

Mahasiddha Virupa, 17th c., Tibet (Chinese artist?), gilt c.a.+cold g.+pig., dhoti

His loin cloth and jewellery are very similar.

A reader who sent me a kind message reminded me of an impressive sculpture of Virupa at the Victoria & Albert Museum which I was not going to include in this blog because it  doesn’t cover works made outside the Himalayan area (unless they are of specific interest). Out of courtesy, and because it is always useful to make comparisons, here is the sculpture in question, and another thought to have been made in China.

15th century, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (UK).

15th century, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (UK).

We can appreciate major iconographic differences between this image of Virupa and those we have seen previously. The head of the antelope skin is given prominence, his loin cloth reaches below the knee and is richly embossed/overlaid with minute flowers all over, the  back end of the garment is neatly arranged over the edge of the base, he wears a garland of acorns and a matching necklace with acorn pendants made to look like tassles. His left arm was broken and replaced, the new arm shows him holding a (missing object) in his fist instead of pointing to the Sun. The right hand holds a (missing) skull cup. His hair, beard and moustache are fashioned like the conical (snail-like) hair curls of a buddha.

15th c., China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt c.a., antelope skin, curly beard, skull cup+other object missing, detail

His meditation belt is embossed/overlaid, his loin cloth is richly decorated with an embossed floral pattern,  the fastener is decorated with tassels.

Undated, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy and stones, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy and stones, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Still seated on an animal skin, over a Yongle-style single-lotus base similar to the 15th century ones above – more rectangular and with the legs of the animal hanging at each corner- Virupa also wears the same type of jewellery and loin cloth.

 

Tibet, Virupa (10)

15th century circa, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, brass, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, brass, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

Virupa is seated on an animal skin (deer or antelope) over a double-lotus base with wide flat petals (a style often associated with the 16th century), wearing a short loin cloth wrapped around his waist, a bone cross-belt and  jewellery, a floral tiara above a row of large locks of hair, and a book in his chignon.

Undated, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt metal and turquoise, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (16th century?), Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt metal and turquoise, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He often leans on one arm while raising the other to stop the course of the sun.

Mahasiddha Virupa, 16th c?, Tibet, gilt c. or c.a.+stones, back

On this Nepalese-style work his jewellery and even his bone apron and the headband that fastens his chignon are decorated with turquoise inlay.

15th century, Himalayan region, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/81549 ..

The use of pure copper and the shape of the lotus base point to a Nepalese artist in Tibet, where he and other famous mahasiddhas were frequently depicted, both in sculpture and paintings. Instead of leaning on one arm he holds a skull cup before his chest.

16th c., Central Tibet, Tsang district, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection.

16th century, Central Tibet, Tsang district, Mahasiddha Virupa, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection.

On this image he wears floral jewellery and a matching garland and tiara and ‘turns the wheel of dharma‘ with his hands.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi http://rossirossi.com .

An unusual image of him seated on a large lotus flower and surrounded with small lotuses supporting a vajra sceptre to his right and a bell to his left.