Tibet, Yamantaka (4)

The Yamari aspect of Yamantaka has a human face with three eyes, bared fangs and orange hair. The Vajrabhairava aspect has at least one buffalo head.

Undated (circa 15th century?, Tibet), Rakta Yamari, gilt metal with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on HAR

Red Yamari with one head and two hands, standing in embrace with his consort atop a human victim lying on the back of a prostrate bull. When his right arm is raised he usually holds a stick tipped with a human head, and has a skull cup in his left hand. She holds a skull cup and a flaying knife and wears a bone apron, he wears a tiger skin loin cloth and often has a half-vajra finial on his flaming hair.

Unlabelled (Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt metal with cold gold, pigments and stone inlay), private collection, photo on HAR

They may stand directly on the back of the male buffalo.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava (labelled ‘protector deity’, gilt copper alloy with pigments and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Tenzing Asian Art

In his sahaja form Vajrabhairava has one head and two arms and always stands alone. Easily confused with Yama Dharmaraja, he holds a flaying knife and a skull cup before his heart (rather than his right arm being outstretched) and steps on a male victim, often on a prostrate bull. In this case the animal has a dakini engraved on its rump. Vajrabhairava, naked and ithyphallic, is adorned with a garland of severed heads, bone ornaments and a skull crown, and may have the hide of an elephant on his back.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, (gilt) bronze (with stone inlay), private collection, photo on HAR

We saw a very similar sculpture dated 14th century (see here: Sotheby’s).

He has 9 heads, 34 hands, 16 legs, his main hands holding a flaying knife and a skull cup, the top ones holding an elephant hide behind his back, the others have a variety of peaceful and wrathful implements. His right legs are bent and would have been crushing Hindu gods and mammals, his left legs are stretched and would have trampled gods and birds. In this case he has three rows of three heads, the top one is Manjushri’s head.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt metal with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 33545.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Alternatively his heads are arranged in a row of seven, plus one angry head, plus Manjushri’s at the top. Note the two figures seated at the front of the lotus base, one of them with four arms.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava with consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold, pigments and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The same form in embrace with his consort, who holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

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Tibet, Yamantaka (3)

Yamantaka is a generic term including three entities: Black Yamari, Red Yamari, Vajrabhairava.

14th century, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, copper alloy with red pigment, private collection, photo on Hollywood Galleries

The three-head and six-hand form of Krishna (black) Yamari  without his consort normally has two legs, on this rare sculpture he has four. In his right hands he holds a dead body, an axe and a knife. His other attributes vary depending on the school of buddhism and the country and may include a noose, a wheel, a vajra sceptre and/or a staff or a club, a pestle.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Yamari, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts

Equally rare is this Yamari brandishing a stick topped with two skulls and a severed head like a khatvanga (long ritual staff). The threatening gesture and noose in his left hand identify him as the one-head and two-hand Krishna Yamari, who normally has a human face and stands on a male buffalo crushing a victim.

15th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper and pigment, copper pedestal, private collection, photo on Hanhai Auction

Usually in embrace with his consort, Rakta (red) Yamari either holds a staff with a human head or a flaying knife in his right hand, a skull cup in the other. The couple stands on a prostrate bull, sometime with a corpse on it. He wears a tiger skin loin cloth and a garland of severed heads, she wears bone apron and a garland of skull.

15th century, Tibet, Yamatanka, gilt bronze with turquoise and pigments, private collection, photo by Polyauction .

Vajrabhairava, the ithyphallic buffalo-headed form of Yamantaka, may be alone and have one head and two hands, in which he holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. He has three eyes, orange flaming hair, bared fangs, a curled tongue, and wears a five-skull crown, bone ornaments and a garland of severed heads.

The above has long strands of hair falling over his shoulders and a long snake worn as a sacred thread.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

An extremely rare sculpture of Vajrabhairava with three heads, one buffalo and two human ones, six arms and two legs. His main hands hold a flaying knife and skull cup, the middle ones hold a drum and a tridanda (trident made of lotus stalks), the upper ones are held as if to stretch an elephant hide, now missing, across his back.

Unlabelled (circa 15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, brass with cold gold and pigments), private collection, item 3218 on Himalayan Art Resources, photo by Hanhai Auction.

The popular 9-head, and 34-hand form, a buffalo head as his main head, holding a flaying knife, a skull cup, peaceful and wrathful implements, his sixteen legs treading on animals and gods.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on Christie’s

An unusual work with nine heads and eighteen arms, the upper hands holding an elephant hide across his back, the main hands holding a flaying knife and a skull cup before his heart, the remaining left hands hold, from top to bottom, Brahma’s head, a shield, a limb, a noose, a coiled rope?, a bell, the remaining right hands holding various implements including a triratna, a staff, an arrow, an axe.

He wears a bone apron with heads dangling from it.

Tibet, Vajrabhairava – various forms

Undated, Tibet?, Vajrabhairava, gilt metal, private collection, photo published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Yamantaka (Vajrabhairava), bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The most common form of Vajrabhairava has 9 faces: a main buffalo head with three angry human faces on each side, topped with a wrathful head and Manjushri’s; his 34 hands carry weapons and other attributes including Brahma’s head; his 16 legs tread on deities and animals (birds and mammals). The main hands always hold a skull cup and a flaying knife at heart level. 

18th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze, 13,5 cm, rectangular base, 9 heads+buddha effigy, elephant hide, Paris sothebys

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

18th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze, 13,5 cm, rectangular base, 9 heads+buddha effigy, elephant hide, base, Paris sothebysOn this variant the heads are arranged in three stacks of three and topped with the effigy of Akshobhya. He stands on a two-tier rectangular platform over a lotus base. The upper hands hold the hide of an elephant stretched across his back.

18th century, Tibet, Yamantaka (Vajrabhairava), gilt polychromed wood, private collection, photo on Ethnologica

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhaira and consort, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/1749.

He may be in embrace with his consort, as above. The main hands hold the same attributes, the upper ones stretch the hide of an elephant across his back, the remaining left hands hold an impaled body, several human limbs, a blue lotus, a noose, a seated buddha, a bell, some weapons; the remaining right hands carry different weapons, a lotus, a vajra sceptre, a drum etc.

15th-16th century (previously labelled 14th-15th), Tibet, Yamantaka (Sahaja Vajrabhairava), bronze, private collection, photo on Aguttes 

This form of Vajrabhairava (an aspect of Yamantaka) has one buffalo head, two legs, and two hands in which he holds a skull cup and a flaying knife. Unlike Yama Dharmaraja, his hands are held before his heart. (Some items published as Yama Dharmaraja could be images of Vajrabhairava. A mention has been added under the corresponding pictures in previous posts).

Tibet, Vajrabhairava – alone (4)

Often called Yamantaka, Vajrabhairava is a specific form of Yamantaka (the other two are Rakta Yamari and Krishna Yamari seen in recent posts).

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

The ekavira (solitary) form of Vajrabhairava with a row of seven angry heads and a large buffalo head at the centre, topped with another angry head and Manjushri’s, with 34 hands and 16 legs, adorned with the usual wrathful ornaments, holding a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands before his heart.

17th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze+cop. rep. stand, 21 cm, 32 arms, 16 legs, 9 heads, Sotheby's Paris

17th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy and copper repoussé stand, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

He stands with the right legs bent and the left one stretched, trampling on deities and animals.

17th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze+cop. rep. stand, 21 cm, 32 arms, 16 legs, 9 heads, close, Sotheby's Paris

On this item, cold gold has been applied to the face and orange pigment has been used to dye the hair, eyebrows, beard and moustache, giving him a very wrathful appearance.

Undated, Tibet?, Vajrabhairava, stone, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Rarely seen in sculpture, the one-head, two-hand and two-leg form of Vajrabhairava holds a flaying knife and a skull cup, wears a five-skull crown, a garland of severed heads and the hide of an elephant across his back. He may stand on a prostrate bull, as above. The addition of Manjushri’s head on top of his is unusual.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, black stone, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Alternatively, the heads are stacked in three groups of three, with the buffalo head at the  bottom and Manjushri’s at the top. The artist has used cold gold to highlight the wrathful ornaments and the attributes held by the deity.

Tibet, Krishna Yamari

11th-12th century, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, bronze (copper alloy) with paint and turquoise, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Krishna Yamari, with a blue-black body on paintings, may have 1 head and 2 or 4 hands, 3 heads and 2, 4, or 6 hands, 4 heads and 4 hands, 6 or 9 heads and 6 hands. According to textual sources, the four-head version has 4 legs. We saw a figure with 4 heads thought to be Krishna Yamari who only had two legs and the fourth head was Manjushri’s. Here, the heads all have the orange hair and third eye associated with wrathful deities. He holds a sword in the upper left hand and a skull cup in the lower right one, the other attributes are probably incomplete.

14th century, labelled ‘Sino-Tibetan’ (Tibetan or Nepalese?), Krishna Yamari, gilt copper alloy with stones and pigment, private collection, photo by Pundoles.

One of the three-head and six-hand form of Black Yamari tramples on two demons lying on the back of a prostrated male buffalo and holds a skull cup, a wheel and a lotus flower or bud in his right hand, a flaying knife, a sword and a vajra sceptre in the others (sometimes in a different order). This form may be alone (India) or accompanied by his consort (Sakya tradition).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, bronze with gilding and paint, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This rare form of Yamari has six heads, six arms and six legs, two of them folded in the vajra position, the other four in the alidha pose typical of wrathful deities. The main hands are crossed over the heart and hold a vajra sceptre and a bell. The other implements appear to be a vajra-hammer, a sword, another vajra or vajra-tipped attribute and possibly a lasso.

Tibet, Vajrabhairava and consort (5)

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, at the Newark Museum (USA).

Sculptures of Vajrabhairava with his consort usually depict him with nine heads, thirty-four hands, sixteen legs.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, bronze (copper alloy) with traces of pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

His right legs are bent and crush Hindu gods and mammals, the right legs are stretched and crush more gods and some birds.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, brass, private collection, photo by Van Ham Kunstauktionen.

Vajravetali has one head, two hands, two legs – one of them around his waist. She holds a flaying knife and a skull cup and wears a bone apron.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, bronze (copper alloy), at the National Gallery in Prague, (Czech Republic).

They wear skull crowns, bone jewellery, he has a garland of fifty freshly severed heads, she has a garland of skulls.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy, at the Dallas Museum of Art (USA).

She always holds a flaying knife and a skull cup, he has the same attributes in his main hands across her back.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with traces of polychromy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).This buffalo-faced aspect of Yamantaka with consort is a meditational deity.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy and pigment, separate base, private collection, photo by Koller.

Here is an example of the nine heads being arranged in three tiers of three heads.

Tibet, Vajrabhairava and consort (4)

15th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava+consort, gilt bronze+pig., 30 cm, 9 heads, 34 arms, on corpses, birds, animals, HK Sotheby's

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Vajrabhaira in his nine-head and thirty-four hand form, with his consort, Vajravetali. The heads may be stacked in three lots of three, or arranged in a row of seven plus one plus Manjushri’s head, as above, the main head being always that of a buffalo.

16th century, Tibet (labelled ‘China’ on Himalayan Art Resources, item 24389), Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigments and turquoise inlay on a copper alloy pedestal, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

They wear wrathful ornaments, including a garland of fifty severed heads for him and a garland of skulls for her, and tread on gods and animals. He often has an elephant hide stretched across his back.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigments and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Vajravetali has one head and two hands, in which she hold a flaying knife and a skull cup. She wears a bone apron. Vajrabhairava holds wrathful implements including a skull cup and a flaying knife in his main hands.

17th-18th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava+Vajravetali, gilt bronze+stones+pig., 31,4 cm, 9 heads 34 arms, 13480 har, Sotheby's.jpg

17th-18th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava+Vajravetali, gilt bronze+stones+pig., 31,4 cm, 9 heads 34 arms, 13480 har, Sotheby's

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy with pigments and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Manjushri’s hair is dyed with blue pigment, reserved for peaceful deities, theirs is usually red/orange.

17th-18th c., Tibet, Vajrabhairava+Vajravetali, gilt bronze+stones+pig., 31,4 cm, 9 heads 34 arms, detail, 13480 har, Sotheby's

This masterpiece includes a triple gem placed on the stand. Another unusual feature is the delicately engraved lotus petals.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, silver, private collection, photo by Christie’s.