Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (4)

18th century, Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani (labelled ‘Mahakala), gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on JJ-Mathias

Mahacakra Vajrapani without his consort, with three heads, six hands and two legs, wielding a vajra sceptre in his top right hand and holding a sword in the lower left one. His middle hands clutch a (missing) long snake that would also have been held in his mouth. This form of the deity is adorned with a princely crown and matching jewellery, no garland of severed heads, and usually treads on two victims atop a lotus base, missing here. The style of this sculpture recalls another seen recently here, especially the design of the three-leaf crown.

Undated, Tibet or Nepal, Vajrapani, black stone, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Vajrapani with one head and three eyes, his upper fangs biting his lower lip; two hands, one of them brandishing his attribute and the other pressing a vajra bell against his hip; two legs, standing on two vicitms. Usually referred to as nilamba or nilambhara, this form of Vajrapani wears no skull crown or garland of severed heads but may have a garuda on top of his head. This one is surrounded by garudas adorning the flaming arch behind him. He is adorned with a floral crown and matching jewellery.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise inlay, private collection?, photo on gg-art

A similar depiction but with the left hand doing a threatening gesture associated with a noose or a lasso (missing here). This form, known as chanda Vajrapani, normally stands on a bed of snakes.

16th century, Tibet or Nepal, (Chanda) Vajrapani, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt

16th-17th century, Tibet, (Chanda) Vajrapani, black schist and paint, private collection, photo on The Emporium

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

In his chanda form, with a skull crown and a garland of severed heads around his neck. It is unusual for him to hold the lasso without doing a threatening gesture, either with the forefinger erect or with the forefinger and the ring finger erect.

16th century, Tibet (or Tibetan style in China?), Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Helios .

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Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – odd shape

A new page (in the left-hand column of the blog) called ‘Groups of similar-style works’ is the heading for a series of subpages devoted to groups of sculptures that share similar characteristics, some of them probably coming from the same atelier, others reflecting a particular trend or custom related to a specific region and/or period, etc. The following are included in the first page, devoted to this style of wrathful Vajrapani attributed to 15th and 16th century Tibet, more to come soon. (To unfold the menu, just place the mouse pointer over or to the right of the above-said heading).

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

We have seen several other Tibetan sculptures of chanda Vajrapani standing on a bed of twisted snakes with the same  exaggeratedly thick limbs and fat belly, the long snake used as a sacred cord strategically knotted between his legs, its head erect, two paws from his tiger skin loin cloth dangling just below. Other distinctive features are the rounded shape of the hair bunch and the design of the crown, the thick coiled lasso in his left hand, and a kind of moustache on each side of his mouth but not on his upper lip.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Michaan’s

 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (3)

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise, lapis lazuli, crystal and glass inlay, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Galleries

This remarkable sculpture depicts Vajrapani with a peaceful yaksha appearance, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth and adorned with the eight snake ornaments (bracelets, armlets, necklace, sacred cord, anklets) and princely jewellery inlaid with a multitude of small-size cabochons. His right arm is much lower than usual and would have held his main attribute horizontally and away from him, the left hand is also away and may have held a bell. We saw a similar hand position on a Vajrapani in Charang (Himachal Pradesh).

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller. 

Vajrapani brandishing his vajra sceptre at head level and holding a bell before his chest, adorned with a skull crown, snakes and beaded jewellery, his tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth knotted at the back.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami (USA), photo on Bridgeman

Another example with a peaceful yaksha appearance, tiger skin and snake ornaments, who may have had a lasso wound around his left forefinger.

12th-13th century, Western Tibet, Guge, Vajrapani, painted clay tsa-tsa, private collection, photo on Astamangala

A very wrathful Vajrapani, adorned with snake and beaded ornaments, his left hand doing the threatening gesture normally displayed when he holds a lasso.

15th-16th century, Western Tibet, Tsaparang, Vajrapani, painted clay on a straw core, photo by Weyer Aschoff on Christian Luczanits  

Impossible to say whether this one held a lasso before his chest or a bell, before him or sideways, but he still looks fierce despite all he has been through.

15th century, Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani with consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise, lapiz lazuli and coral, photo by Lempertz.

Mahacakra Vajrapani, with three heads and six hands, embracing his consort who wears a bone apron and holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. His main right hand does the fear-allaying gesture, the other expresses supreme generosity. His top hands hold a vajra sceptre and a snake, the lower ones hold a long snake he has in his mouth (missing here). The couple stand on two Hindu gods.

Tibet, Vajrapani – chanda (6)

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with gem, private collection, photo on artkhade Artkhade

This form of fierce Vajrapani wields a vajra sceptre with the right hand and does a wrathful gesture with the other, a lasso (often missing) wound around the forefinger.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with traces of gilding, turquoise and coral, private collection, photo on  Christie’s  

He may stand on a victim lying on a bed of snakes atop a lotus base but is often depicted without the victim (and sometimes without the snakes).

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy with stones), private collection, photo on WeArt

The above wears snake bracelets and anklets, princely accessories including a crown with turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral (or glass replacements), his chignon topped with a half-vajra finial, his celestial scarf cleverly used as a halo.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Galerie Zacke

On this example the tiger skin goes below the knee and the head of the animal appears to be devouring the entire leg.

Late 16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on Doyle 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (14)

12th century, Tibet, unidentified, lapis lazuli? (labelled metal’), Nyingjei Lam collection,  on HAR

This figure, published in another section of this blog some time ago, is very likely the Bhutadamara from the Nyingjei Lam collection mentioned by Bonhams in relation to a lapis lazuli Avalokiteshvara seen in the previous post, although he has three peaceful heads and wears princely crowns and a garland, which doesn’t match textual descriptions.

Generally regarded as a wrathful form of Vajrapani, Bhutadamara is an emanation of Akshobhya, with a dark blue or a white body on paintings. He normally has one angry face with bared fangs and bulging eyes, two legs standing on the demon Bhut Aparajita, and 4 or 6 hands. The blue form does the bhutadamara mudra with his main hands, as above, and holds various attributes including a vajra sceptre and a noose. He may have a dragon  or a snake and a half-vajra in his headdress and normally wears a skull crown and a tiger skin loin cloth.

15th century, Tibet, Bhutadamara Vajrapani, (painted clay?), is or was at Gyantse, photo on HAR

He normally has a yaksha appearance, treading on a prone victim, adorned with princely jewellery and wearing a tiger skin dhoti. This masterpiece depicts him with an attendant on each side of him. His flaming hair is tied with a green snake.

Circa 16th century? Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani (labelled ’19th century Yamantaka’), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Auction Art

Mahacakra Vajrapani has three heads and 4 to 8 hands. He has a long snake in his mouth and his main hands, and he stands on two victims. His upper right hand holds a vajra sceptre, the lower one does the fear-allaying gesture.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with paint, at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Vajrapani with one head and two hands, adorned with snakes, beaded jewellery and large floral earrings, his celestial scarf cleverly forming a flaming nimbus, his tiger skin loin cloth held in place with a Nepalese-style belt with raining-jewel pendants.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with silver-inlay, private collection, photo on Daguerre

Canda/Chanda Vajrapani stands on a bed of snakes, brandishing his vajra sceptre in his right hand and holding a folded lasso in the other. He wears a tiger skin loin cloth, snakes and princely jewellery. His eyes, nipples and part of his accessories are inlaid with silver.

15th century (or later?), Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled ‘Guru Dragpoche’), bronze, private collection, published on Catawiki.

Tibet, Vajrapani – Chanda (5)

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (with red paint), private collection, photo on Waddingtons

It is most unusual for wrathful Vajrapani to be shown in an ithyphallic form, yet the vajra sceptre in his right hand and the twisted snakes below his feet identify him. His left hand would have held a lasso wound around his raised forefinger. He wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth and is adorned with snakes, a small tiara and earplugs.

13th century, Western Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with cold gold and pigments, at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney (Australia) on maas

He sometimes holds his left arm almost at a right angle with the forefinger pointing sideways. We saw another two Tibetan sculptures with the same hairstyle and accessories, also dated 13th century.

Unlabelled, (Tibet or Nepal?, copper alloy?), Vajrapani, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Undated (circa 14th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, (brass with pigments), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources item 11022 .

This masterpiece depicts him with a tall crown secured with rods such as we have seen on many wisdom buddhas from Tibet dated 14th century (see below for example).

His eyes, fingernails, armbands and part of his celestial scarf (decorated with a stippled lotus pattern) are inlaid with copper, some of his accessories are decorated with a chased geometrical design, his third eye and the foliate ornament above the armbands are inlaid with coral.

17th century (or earlier?), Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled ‘Jambhala’), bronze, private collection, photo on Nye & Co.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources item 10374.

The large half-vajra finial on his head is a recurrent feature on 15th and 16th century Tibetan works .

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo on HAR

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled ‘tantric divinity’, gilt bronze), photo on Nagel

Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani with bell (2)

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (brass), private collection, photo on Nagel

Metal sculptures of wrathful Vajrapani with a bell (missing here) in his left hand are relatively few. He has three eyes, bared fangs, wears a tiger skin loin cloth, a small tiara instead of a skull crown, eight snake ornaments, including one used as a sacred thread. The above wears it on one side of his body rather than from one shoulder to the opposite hip as is customary. There is an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi (India), photo on HAR

He may stand on one victim…

Undated, Tibet?, Vajrapani, metal, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 10667. 

Unlabelled (circa 15th century, Tibet, gilt copper or copper alloy and stones), Vajrapani, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Undated (circa 16th century), Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal with cold gold, pigments and stones, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo on HAR

or two, and hold the bell downwards or upside down. Unlike most wrathful deities he doesn’t wear a garland of severed heads.

Unlabelled (circa 12th century?, Tibet), Vajrapani, (copper alloy with cold gold and pigments), private collection, photo on HAR

On occasions he has a garuda in his headdress.