15th century, Tibet, Mahakala, bronze, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s
A rare sculpture of Mahakala with four heads (chaturmukha), his main hands holding a flaying knife and a skull cup before his heart, the missing upper arms would have held a sword and a rosary of bones, or a lance. As in most other forms, he wears a tiger skin loin cloth, a skull crown, bone ornaments and a garland of severed heads.
Mahakala with one head and four arms (chaturbhuja), seated on a victim, holding a flaying knife and a skull cup at heart level. The implements missing from his upper hands are a sword and a staff with a vajra placed horizontally across it, or a trident.
He may also hold a lotus bud or a coconut shaped like a human heart in his main right hand, in which case his upper hands hold a sword and a ritual staff (khatvanga). The above has an effigy of Akshobhya on his flaming his hair.
18th century, Tibet, Mahakala, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt
Mahakala in his panjarnata form, with one head and two hands, squatting on a victim and holding a flaying knife, a skull cup before his chest and a danda staff across his arms.
In his kartaridhara form (Nagpo Chempo in Tibet), with one head and two arms, brandishing a flaying knife in his right hand and holding a skull cup filled with blood, standing with a leg bent, his feet trampling a human corpse (missing here).
With one head, two legs and six arms (shadbhuja), treading on Ganapati with both feet and holding a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands, a drum and a lasso in the lower ones, a rosary and a trident or a staff (missing here) in the remaining ones. The above also holds the hide of an elephant in his upper hands.
An example with a trident in his upper left hand, the three flat prongs are visible above his left ear, an ornamental streamer flowing just below.
With the trident in the lower left hand, the lasso missing from the upper one.
Danda Mahakala, standing like a warrior, wears a large cloak tied with a belt, felt boots, a skull crown and princely jewellery. He holds a danda stick (missing here) topped with a jewel in his right hand and a bowl of disease in the other; alternatively he holds a lance in both hands.
Quite different from the examples we have seen so far, this one treads on two victims, wears his garment loosely and has a snake around his neck and another to tie his flaming hair.