Tibet, Vajradaka (6)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Renaud Montméat

Vajradaka, slightly crouching on the lotus pedestal, his head thrown back for the smoke from the (missing) sesame seed burner below to come out, his sharp fangs protruding, coiffed with a five-skull crown and adorned with a garland of severed human heads, large floral earrings and beaded jewellery, a long snake knotted across his chest, his tiger skin loin cloth knotted at the front over a singular skirt-like garment. His hands are crossed over his heart with the palms facing outwards, displaying a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell.

17th century, Tibet, Dhaka, bronze (brass) with copper inlay, private collection, photo on Bachmann & Eckenstein

Seated with his legs apart, a copper-inlaid third eye on his forehead, a Chinese-style curly beard, no garland.

Undated (circa 18th century), Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Seated with his legs crossed, adorned with a large skull tiara, a garland of severed heads, bone jewellery and a cross-belt, an animal skin around his waist.

Tibet, Vajradaka (6)

16th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, (copper alloy), private collection, photo on HAR.

Vajradaka standing on a double-lotus pedestal, his hands crossed palm out on his chest to display a vajra sceptre and a bell, wearing a tiger skin loin cloth, a bone apron, a garland of severed heads, a celestial scarf, a human hide over his shoulders, bone jewellery, his mouth wide open for the smoke to come out of the (missing) burner below him.

17th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, metal (copper alloy), private collection, item 8337 on Himalayan Art Resources.

Complete with the cylindrical receptacle in which black sesames seeds are burnt and the square plinth that supports it, this time he is seated at ease on a single lotus. The top of the burner is decorated with a row vajra sceptres.

18th century, Tibet, (Vajra)dhaka, bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 104 China 2.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajradaka, bronze (brass), Nagel sale 736 China 3 .

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

18th c?, Tibet, Vajradaka, bronze, lab. Mahakala 19th c., Cambiaste

18th century?, Tibet, Vajradaka (labelled ‘ 19th century, Mahakala’), bronze, private collection, photo by Casa Cambi d’Aste.

18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, metal (copper alloy), private collection, item 3061 on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR.

 

Tibet, Vajradaka (5)

17th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Mandarin Auction.

Undated (17th or later), Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

These two figures are very similar in style. The vajra sceptre is missing on the first one, the second comes complete with the charcoal burner, which is round and has three legs shaped like animal heads.

18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art.

The legs on this tripod are clearly shaped like pig’s heads.

Undated (17th or 18th century?), Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this other masterpiece and the next one, his legs are crossed.

Undated , Tibet, Vajradaka, bronze, published in Art of the Himalayas, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, Vajradaka, bronze (copper alloy), photo by Tibetan Relics.

Centuries of devotion have smoothed the surface of this figure, who sits on a lotus base with large roundish petals typical of the 16th century.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this equally old example, Vajradaka stands with his right leg bent, the other straight, both of them partly out of the lotus base.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt metal, at Musée Guimet in Paris (France), photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajradaka, bronze and paint, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Parcel-gilt to suit the Chinese taste, this item has also been painted with red pigment, probably to accentuate his wrathful nature. He is seated on a tiger skin, the head of the animal placed between his feet.

 

Tibet, Vajradaka (4)

Undated, Tibet, Vajradaka, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This rare Vajradaka purification set is very similar to a circa 16th century brass one published in a previous post (sold by Christie’s). The square plinth with eight ornate legs supports a cylindrical pan perforated with holes (for the combustion of the charcoal inside) and decorated with an upright vajra. The deity squats on the lid, his hands crossed over his heart and holding a vajra sceptre and a vajra-handled bell, his head thrust back, the mouth wide open for the smoke to come out.

Undated (Malla period), Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, same as before.

This rare Nepalese-style item shows him standing with his right leg bent like most other wrathful deities do, and bedecked with turquoise-inlaid jewellery.

Undated, Tibet, metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources, item 114.

He is short and pot-bellied, and may be naked. The above wears a tiger skin dhoti worn with the tail of the animal at the front, a feature often seen on 18th-19th century sculptures.

16th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, brass, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A side view of this example reveals long flaming hair gathered in a bunch.

Undated, Tibet, Vajradaka, metal, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

 

Undated (circa 18th), Tibet, Vajradaka, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He is adorned with a garland of severed heads and some jewellery including earrings, armbands, bracelets, and anklets. This late example, who has his legs crossed, wears a flowing celestial scarf with serpentine ends and matching crown ribbons.

Undated, Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources, item 44425.

When this blog was created, hardly any images of Vajradaka were available. Now there are a lot more (partly thanks to the very useful Himalayan Art Resources website – see link in left-hand margin) and we can observe that he may be standing, squatting or seated, in which case his legs may be crossed, gathered before him with both knees bent, or loosely gathered with only one knee bent as above.

Tibet, Vajradaka (3)

18th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, gilt copper alloy, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

Labelled 18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

This is the top part of the charcoal burner, representing Vajradaka/Vajradhaka in a squatting position with a vajra sceptre and a vajra-handled bell in his hands crossed over his heart. He is adorned with a five-skull crown attached with ribbons, large floral earrings, bone jewellery, a Chinese-style cross belt and a garland of severed human heads.

Undated, Tibet, Vajradhaka, silver,

Undated, Tibet, Vajradhaka, silver, on Himalayan Art Resources.

This silver figure has a leopard skin  wrapped around his waist

Tibet, Vajradaka (2)

16th century circa, Vajradhaka, Tibet, bronze, photo by Christie's.

Circa 16th ,Vajradaka, Tibet, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Vajradaka is always depicted with a thunderbolt or vajra and a bell, usually crossed over his heart. He has one head  adorned with a skull crown, three eyes, a gaping mouth, and always looks up (to let the smoke out). He may be standing, sitting or squatting. The base is often missing but the above sculpture  is complete with its hollow base designed to burn black sesame seeds for rituals. He wears a garland of fifty freshly severed heads, a cross belt, a tiger skin loin cloth and bone ornaments. He stands on a circular platform, the rim engraved with vajras, over a receptacle (the burner) decorated with a vajra and supported by a square plinth with a crescent moon topped with a vajra finial at each corner.

17th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, bronze, private collection

17th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, bronze, private collection, on arcimboldo.cz

17th c., Tibet, Vajradaka, c.a., arcimboldo, back

 

17th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, brass, private collection.

17th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, brass, Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Vajradaka, Tibet, 17th c., brass, rearview

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajradhaka,

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajradaka, copper alloy, photo by Bonhams.

On this sculpture his celestial scarf and the ribbons of his crown are going upwards in a snake-like design to suit the Chinese taste.

Tibet, three Vajradaka sculptures

18th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, at the San Diego Museum of Art.

18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt copper alloy, at the San Diego Museum of Art, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 88765.

Vajradaka, an emanation of buddha Akshobhya, wears a tiger skin and holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his hands crossed over his heart. He has three eyes and an open mouth with sharp fangs. Sometimes standing, usually seated or squatting, adorned with a garland of freshly severed heads, a skull crown, bone jewellery and a celestial scarf, this meditational deity is related to fire rituals for purification and the sculptures are usually the upper part of something similar to an incense burner. The lower part, in the form of a tripod or a hollow base, is often missing. Black sesame seeds are burnt inside and the smoke comes out of the gaping mouth.

Vajradaka, Tibeto-chinese, 18th c., copper alloy, 13 cm, Sotheby's

18th century, Tibet, Chinese artist, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Vajradaka, Tibet, 18th c., bronze, traces of gilding, 28 cm

18th century, Tibet, dark bronze with traces of gilding, Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).