Tibet, Padmsambhava (14)

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A standard image of Guru Rinpoche/Padmasambhava, seated with his legs locked, holding a vajra sceptre against his heart and a skull cup.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, Bonhams.

This figure seems to have been damaged by fire, but Bonhams tell us that his face was blackened by ritual smoke.

A very large rice-grain pattern decorates the border of his robe.

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy repoussé with cold gold on face and hands, private collection, photo by Koller.

This Padmasambhava has a half vajra finial on his hat (a vulture feather possibly missing from it) and a vajra sceptre placed before him (judging by its size it may not be the one he originally held in his right hand). His lotus hat is adorned with turquoise inlay and Chinese-style serpentine ribbons. The earrings are missing.

18th century, Tibet, Padmsambhava, gilt copper alloy with traces of cold gold, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

We saw in the previous post that on later sculptures he often wears a necklace over his outer garment. Note the lotus base with several layers of petals of various shapes and sizes.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Padmsambhava, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Apart from a short necklace, later Tibetan sculptures of Padmasambhava  frequently include stone inlay on his hat and jewellery, cold gold  and pigments on his face, colour on his hair.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Padmsambhava, gilt copper alloy and pigments, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

On this richly gilt work, the artist has even added small turquoise cabochons to the lotus base.

18th century, Tibet, Padmsambhava, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

This  more modest work includes a two-piece flaming mandorla and a semi-circular open plinth. His hat is more like a foliate crown but the feather on top and his attributes identify him without doubt.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, stone, at the Newark Museum (USA).

Contrasting with the dark stone, Padmasambhava wears a red hat with a crescent moon and sun disc symbol on the front panel. There are traces of cold gold on his clothes and on the lotus base.

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Tibet, Padmasambhava – variants

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo credits unknown.

There are many Tibetan sculptures of Padmasambhava seated and dressed this way, with a skull cup in his left hand and a vajra sceptre pointing to his heart horizontally, the right hand displaying a gesture to ward off evil.

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Here he holds the vajra sceptre at a slant.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Cambiaste.

A variant with no finger tip touching the thumb. The scallop-shaped petals going upwards on the lotus base became popular in Tibet around the 17th century.

His meditation cloak and his hat are incised with a cloud pattern.

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A similar design, with semi-circular beading between the petals. There is a long-life vase in his skull cup.

He has a large crescent moon and sun disc symbol on his hat, a vajra finial with a vulture feather at the top, pearl cabochons (most missing) on the front panel.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Castor-Hara.

This sculpture displays several unusual features, such as the legs completely wrapped in his robe, the rosettes above his ears and an accessory with a matching floral design curiously placed over his right shoulder. It comes complete with the ritual staff propped against his left shoulder.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

The silver-inlaid eyes and facial features  of this character recall works  produced in the Tsang province (Central Tibet). His right hand displays the teaching gesture (the tip of the forefinger pressing the thumb). His hat is made of small lotus panels of equal size and lappets that reach the shoulders and leave no room for earrings. Note the creative pattern incised on the border of his clothes.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

We don’t often get a chance to see a half vajra finial together with a vulture feather (partly broken here) on top of his hat. The vajra sceptre is held vertically, away from his heart. He wears large hoops with a floral pendant, a design introduced by Tibetan artist around the 16th century.

17th century, Tibet or Bhutan, Padmasambhava, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Astamangala.

This rare work, with a Bhutanese-style lotus base, depicts him seated at royal ease, with long strands of curls over his shoulders, holding the vajra sceptre horizontally over his knee,  his hand open in the gesture of supreme generosity.

18th century, Tibet or Mongolia, Padmasambhava, parcel-gilt silver partly cast and partly repoussé, turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Here the right hand is placed on the knee and the vajra sceptre is held upright. He sits at ease on a lotus base decorated with overlapping spiky leaves facing upwards. He wears a short necklace over his garments.

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

An unusual portrait of him with the vajra sceptre upright in his cupped hand and coiffed with a conical hat with  long lappets, no finial on it (and no space for earrings).

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, wood with cold gold and pigments, private collection?, photo by Ian Alsop.

This  one also wears his hat unfolded. He is seated on a lotus base with overlapping three-lobed petals typical of the period, and holds the (missing) vajra sceptre with his hand over his right knee, palm inwards.

Each panel of his hat is a lotus petal normally worn upward. This rear view shows how is long black hair is combed backwards and worn loose.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

We saw in a previous post that he may have three vulture feathers on his cap instead of one.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The addition of a necklace, usually matching his earrings,  seems to have been a common practice by the 17th century.

17th-18th century, Tibet or Bhutan, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Here we have large floral and foliate earrings but no necklace. His shoulders are covered with a small cape with a cloud design.

 

Tibet, Padmasambhava (13)

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Padmasambhava in his normal form has a wide gaze and frowning brows, and is usually seated in the vajra position.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

When his face is painted with cold gold and pigments, he (nearly always) has a small moustache and goatee.

15th century, Central Tibet, Padmasambhava, bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Mehmet Hassan.

He wears a lotus hat topped with a vulture feather (sometimes three).

15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Cornette de Saint-Cyr.

In most cases he holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a skull cup in the other.

15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

These attributes are often complemented by a ritual staff (khatvanga).

15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Pundoles.

He wears thick garments with long sleeves that cover both arms.

15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

And may have a small cape over his shoulders.

His hat is decorated with a crescent moon and sun disc at the front.

Undated (15th-16th century?), (Central?) Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The above wears sumptuous garments with an embroidered hem.

Possibly from a Tsang province atelier, this work also has a richly incised pattern on the back.

Undated (15th or 16th century?), Tibet, Tsang province, Padmasambhava, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Padmasambhava nearly always wears earrings. On earlier sculptures, these are large hoops or discs. The diamond-shaped floral design on this sculpture became popular from the late 15th or early 16th century onwards.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Padmsambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

The vajra sceptre is normally held horizontally with the palm of the hand facing the viewer.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Padmsambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.buddhist-art.com.

and pointing to his heart.

Undated, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He often wears felt boots.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

On occasions he has a half vajra on top of his hat.

18th century, Central Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper repoussé and cast head and hands, turquoise and pearl inlay, removable earrings, at the Freer Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC (USA).

On rare occasions he has the vajra finial and the vulture feather(s) (broken or missing on some works due to its fragility).

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the British Museum in London (UK).

His skull cup main contain a long-life vase.

Tibet, Padmasambhava – different forms (2)

17th-18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A few sculptures (and many paintings) depict Padmasambhava as the main medicine buddha, seated in the vajra position on a plinth decorated with other medicine buddhas, wrapped in thick garments and his usual lotus hat (but not feather on top), displaying a seed or a leaf of the arura plant in the palm of his right hand and holding a medicine bowl in the other.

On this example he has silver-inlaid eyes and wears ornate earrings and a matching necklace.

Nyima Oser, 18th century, Tibet, metal, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

We saw a similar sculpture of him as Nyima Oser in a previous post. This time the sun disc in his left hand is facing the other way round and his face is not painted with pigments.

He is adorned with jewellery, a five-skull crown with beaded festoons, a cross belt and a shawl.

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava and consorts, brass, private collection, photo by Arcimboldo.

In his main form he is sometimes accompanied by his two consorts, Yeshe Tsogyal and Mandarava. They are considerably smaller than him and stand on each side of the lotus base. He holds a vajra sceptre and a skull cup, and a ritual staff leans against his left shoulder.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal, gilt metal, at the Newark Museum (USA).

 

Tibet, Padmasambhava – different forms

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Padmsambhava, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Typically, the Indian master is depicted seated in the vajra position, holding a skull cup in his left hand and a vajra sceptre in the other, his graceful face with a wide gaze and a thin moustache, his head coiffed with a lotus hat topped with a vulture feather, a ritual staff propped against his left shoulder. The above sits on a stepped throne supported by two snow lions  between a long-life vase and decorated with a row of vajra sceptres at the bottom and  turquoise-inlaid lozenges at the top. This type of throne was common around the 13th-14th century. The gilding, the size of the cabochons and the draping of his garments are more often seen on later sculptures.

16th-17th century, Tibet or Ladakh, bronze (brass), Padmasambhava and his eight manifestations, private collection, photo by Koller.

Apart from his normal aspect, Padmasambhava has eight forms  often depicted together with him at the centre plus two devotees. He also has a meditational form with a wrathful aspect.

Placed at the top of this set, Sakya Sengge has a buddha appearance and holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a begging bowl in the other.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava and emanations, private collection, photo by Koller.

Pema Gyalpo has a lay man appearance, he wears ample garments with long sleeves and shoes, and holds a drum in his left hand, a mirror in the other.

18th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, parcel gilt silver repoussé, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Nyima Oser (Surya Rasmi in sanskrit) has a mahasiddha appearance, almost naked, his hair tied in a top knot. He is adorned with bone jewellery, a five-skull crown, a celestial scarf and wears a tiger skin loin cloth. This sculpture depicts him as an old man, with a ritual staff against his left shoulder and his right hand across his knee. The way the fingers are held indicates that he may have held a lasso in his right hand, as on some paintings.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Nyima Oser, gilt copper, private collection.

This is a more youthful Nyima Oser, with a vajra finial on his chignon and an elaborate skull crown with foliate panels, ribbons and bows. He holds a  a sun disc (in Tibetan nyi ma od zer means rays of the sun) and probably had a staff in the other hand.

Undated, Tibet, Nyima Oser, brass, published in Sattvas & Rajas, the Culture and Art of Tibetan Buddhism, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this example, he does hold a ritual staff (obviously replaced at a later date) in his right hand.

Undated, Tibet, Orgyen Dorje Chang, copper alloy with cold gold, same as before.

Orgyen Dorje (Oddiyana Vajradhara in sanskrit), is always with his consort. He holds a thunderbolt sceptre and bell (vajra and ghanta), like Vajradhara and his consort, but his hands are not crossed over her back.

Undated (circa 18th century), Tibet, Loden Chogse, bronze with cold gold and turquoise inlay, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Loden Chogse is dressed in kingly attire and holds a skull cup or a white bowl and a mirror.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Loden Chogse, gilt wood and lacquer, at the Liverpool World Museum (UK).

He may hold a drum instead of the mirror, as on this wooden example. The cup seems to be filled with jewels.

Undated, Tibet, Dorje Drolo, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Dorje Drolo rides a tiger or stands on a tigress. He has one head with three eyes and two hands, in which he holds a vajra sceptre and a kila (three-sided peg with a vajra handle).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sengge Dradog, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Sengge Dradog has wrathful appearance. He has one head with three eyes and flaming hair, he wears the wrathful ornaments and a tiger skin loin cloth, wields a vajra with his right hand while doing a wrathful gesture (to ward off evil) with the other, and normally treads on a human victim with both feet.

This one has a human hide over his shoulders- we can see the arms and hands knotted across his chest.

These sets of Padmasambhava and other forms sometimes feature Guru Dragpo (or Dragmar) instead of Sengge Dradog.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Guru Dragpo, gilt metal, at the Museum der Kulturen in Baslel (Switzerland).

A meditational deity with a fierce appearance, Guru Dragpo has various forms, the main one with one head with three eyes and flaming hair, two hands in which he holds a vajra sceptre and a scorpion, two legs. He wears an elephant hide over his shoulders and has a tiger skin loin cloth and a five-skull crown. His three-head, six-hand form is seen mainly on paintings, always with his consort.

18th century, Tibet, Guru Dragpur, stone, private collection, same as before.

Derived from Guru Dragpo, this extremely wrathful deity has two wings and a three-sided peg (kila) instead of legs.

Undated, Tibet, Guru Dragpur, copper alloy with pigment and turquoise inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

 

 

 

 

 

Tibet, Padmasambhava (12)

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Koller.

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Koller.

This is a standard portrait of Padmasambhava dressed in full monastic garments with an incised hem, seated in the vajra posture, a skull cup and a vajra in his hands, his ritual staff propped against his left shoulder, adorned with a lotus hat with a moon and sun symbol at the front and topped with a vulture feather. He has no facial hair and no earrings. It is unusual for the petals on the lotus base to be split at the center.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava,  gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on www.asianart.com

16th-17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.asianart.com

On this sculpture, with more realistic facial features and elegant body proportions, he is wearing some footwear. His earrings, necklace and hat are inlaid with turquoise. Other ‘modern’ elements are the profusion of folds in the cloth and the lotus base (with a plain base and a row of wide overlapping petals going upwards). There are long strands of hair over his shoulders.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, dark copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, dark copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This type of lotus base became popular during the 17th century and is also seen on 17th-18th century works from Mongolia and Bhutan. On the above sculpture we can see some form of footwear under his left hand.

Same as before, gilt copper alloy, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

Same as before, gilt copper alloy, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

Again, his feet are covered here. The lotus base is more elaborate and the style of the petals more innovative.

17th c., Tibet, Padmasambhava, bronze, 24 cm, close up

The front panel of his lotus hat is decorated with a visvajra. The vulture feather is missing.

17th century, Central Tibet, Padmsambhava, ivory,

17th century, Central Tibet, Padmsambhava, ivory, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This piece is remarkable not only because of the material used by the artist but also – and above all – because of the high degree of craftsmanship.

17th century circa, same as before, private collection, photo by Christie's.

17th century circa, same as before, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is a similar image, seated on a lotus base with broad flat petals going upwards typical of the 18th century. On both items the vulture feather is missing and he has no staff.

 

 

 

 

Tibet, Padmasambhava (11)

15th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th century (or later?), Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This richly gilt Nepalese-style sculpture depicts Padmasambhava in the traditional way, seated in the vajra position, with a skull cup in his left hand, a vajra in the other and a ritual staff against his left shoulder, his lotus hat topped with a vulture feather. The artist has portrayed him like a deified lama, with long-stem lotuses on each side.

15th c., Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt c.a., foliate scroll design, kartari mudra

His garments are richly incised with a floral and foliate motif. His right hand does the tarjani(or kartari) mudra.

15th c., Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt c.a., lotus base

The shape of the upward-going petals on the lotus base is normally associated with the 16th century onwards, the same goes for the shape of his earrings.

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is a rare portrait of Padmasambhava, seated on an unusual lotus base and flanked by his main consorts, Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal, who stand on lotuses. He has silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips. His garments have an incised hem.

Same as before, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

Same as before, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is a similar type of portrait (the consorts are missing) complete with its back panel made of two parts and decorated with deities (likely his other forms). Again, we see a lotus base with upward petals flanked by two lotuses and attached to another lotus base, with downward petals.

17th century, Central Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

17th century, Central Tibet, Padmasambhava, copper alloy, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

Dated a century later, this sculpture has a strikingly similar base and is made in a similar (Central Tibetan) style. As we have seen in the introduction to this blog, dating is always relative and it both sculptures were probably made around the same time. This one has lost its back panel but the two consorts are preserved.

Same as before, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, photo by Koller.

16th-17th century, same as before, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, photo by Koller.

This is Padmasambhava and his eight forms (or emanations). We can see Dorje Drolo in the bottom right corner, riding a tiger and holding a vajra in one hand and a ritual knife or phur-bu in the other. Guru Dragpo stands on the other side, holding a vajra and a scorpion. Orgyam Dorje Chang, second from the top left corner, looks like Vajradhara and his consort.