Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (15)

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Lempertz .

Vajrapani with a wrathful yaksha appearance, brandishing his main attribute in his right hand, the fingers of his left hand doing a specific gesture to hold a (missing) lasso, a tiger skin tied loosely around the waist. He wears a foliate crown, a matching necklace, earrings and snake ornaments including a long one worn across the chest as a sacred cord.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Lempertz .

The same form, known as chanda Vajrapani, standing on a human victim and wearing a garland of severed heads.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, silver, private collection, photo by Olympia Auctions, sale MB21118 lot 207.

Instead of having the forefinger and ring finger of the left hand folded with the tip pressed against the thumb (karana mudra), he may have the forefinger erect and the next three fingers folded (tarjani mudra) while holding his lasso. The human head attached to the tiger skin loin cloth is most unusual.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, wood with gold paint and pigment, at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne (Australia).

On rare occasions his left hand points sideways.

Early 17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Carter’s .

Nilambara/Nilambadhara Vajrapani has a bell in his left hand, often upside-down and next to his left hip. He never wears a skull crown or a garland of severed heads and usually treads on Ganapati or on two victims.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (5)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s Amsterdam, sale 2761.

Chanda Vajrapani holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a lasso in the other, sometimes pointing sideways. This example belongs to a group of Tibetan brass works with a tripartite flaming hair bunch mentioned previously (gathered in the page devoted to this topic in the top left-hand corner of this blog).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and gems, private collection, Important Asian Art Auction, lot 8080.

Most of the time his left hand does a threatening gesture (karana mudra as above or tarjani mudra as below) while holding the lasso before his heart.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani – Krodha (wrathful), gilt metal (with stone inlay and pigment), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

16th century, Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, gilt bronze, sale 14259 Art d’Asie, Paris, Christie’s.

With three heads and six hands, two of which hold a long snake caught in his mouth, another two embrace his consort while displaying the fear-allaying (abhaya) and the supreme generosity (varada) gestures, his top right hand brandishes a vajra sceptre, the top left hand does a threatening gesture. The couple stand on Brahma and Shiva. When depicted with two hands, as above, his consort holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani and consort, bronze with copper alloy and pigment, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

A singular sculpture depicting a deity with three heads, six arms, and what apperas to be four legs and wings. He stands on two victims, in embrace with his consort and holding a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands. The middle hands clutch a drum and a miniature garuda, he likely held his main attribute, a vajra sceptre, in the top right hand and another implement on the other side. He is adorned with three-skull crowns, bone ornaments, a garland of severed heads and snakes.

Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani (14)

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 4.

Chanda Vajrapani, brandishing a vajra sceptre in his right hand and doing a threatening gesture with the other while holding a (missing) lasso, adorned partly with snakes and partly with princely accessories including a five-leaf crown.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (brass), private collection, on Christie’s

14th century, Tibet (or later copy?), Vajrapani, gilt bronze with cold gold and pigment, private collection?, photo on GG-ART

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, published in ‘The Buddhist Deity Vajrapani’ by Gouriswar Bhattacharya on Academia.eduThis one wears a tripartite crown with a large floral design and wide bows, bulky jewellery, a sacred cord, small snakes around his wrists and ankles.

16th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Shirley Day Ltd, same publication as before.

The author of the article points out that on this image Vajrapani has one foot on a snake and the other on a human victim. Also, the long snake used as a sacred thread goes over his right shoulder (on early works it is usually over the left shoulder but on the first picture and on the next one it is also worn over the right shoulder). Among his princely jewellery we will note the cross-belt with a central flower and ‘raining-jewel’ pendants.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy and pigments, photo by Capriaquar on Academia Edu .

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled Mahakala), bronze with traces of lacquer and pigment, private collection, photo by Beaussant-Lefèvre, Arts d’Asie 2016.

Late Tibetan sculptures of wrathful deities are often in the Chinese style, with a much fiercer look, bushy eyebrows, pointed fingers and toes, sharp flaming hair, a flat scarf with serpentine ends, and the tail of the tiger skin dangling at the front.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Eddie’s Auction

Wrathful Vajrapani with a tripartite hair bunch – see the new page in the ‘comparing works’ section of this blog in the left-hand margin-  and a bell in his left hand.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy with pigment), private collection, photo on Artcurial .

Vajrapani with an upturned bell in his left hand, crushing a single victim with a human appearance.

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 .

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