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.