Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani with bell

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, Nilambadhara, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Marcel Nies.

In one of his most common forms, wrathful Vajrapani brandishes his main attribute and presses a bell against his left side. He is adorned with the eight snake ornaments (no skull crown and no garland of severed heads) and usually treads on an elephant-headed demon lying on snakes (Bhut Aparajita). The above wears a foliate crown, large earrings and snakes, his tiger skin loin cloth is held in place with a cloth belt. The petals on the pedestal are engraved rather than sculpted, which helps date the piece.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with stones, private collection, photo by Hayman Himalayan Art.

A similar appearance, with two figures on the pedestal, who represent ego and ignorance.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, black stone, private collection, photo by Renaud Montméat.

In theory, he never wears a skull crown but he may have a garuda in his headdress. This one wears a five-skull tiara and there is a garuda at the top of the arch behind him.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The bell is often held upside-down.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Tibet, Vajrapani – chanda (3)

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction.

Tibet has produced a large variety of wrathful Vajrapani sculptures. Apart from brandishing his main attribute, a vajra sceptre, in his canda/chanda form he holds a lasso in his left hand while doing a threatening gesture. On rare occasions, he squats rather than having one leg straight.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, Katimari collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This one is adorned with nothing but snakes and his red flaming hair is tied with a large cobra.

15th-16th century?, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled Achala), copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

He may have a half-vajra finial on his hair.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Polyauction.

The above has an effigy of Akshobhya in his headdress and sports curly eyebrows, moustache and beard.

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo on HImalayan Art Resources.

Traditionally, he stands on a victim lying on a bed of snakes, here there seems to be two.

His eyes and teeth are inlaid with silver.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by 25 Blythe Road.

Like the first figure in this post, this one is squatting. His flaming hair is tied with a snake and adorned with a floral tiara.

He wears his tiger skin loin cloth with the head, the paws and the tail all dangling at the front.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This Chinese-style work depicts him with a very angry face, spiky flaming hair that stand up on his head way above the crown, and an equally spiky flaming arch behind him.

Undated (late Pala revival?), Tibet, Vajrapani, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (USA).

The tiger skin on this Pala-style sculpture is worn like a pair of shorts. We have seen early examples in the Indian section of this blog.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, parcel-gilt copper, private collection, photo by Vajragallery.

Undated (18th-19th century?), Tibet, Chanda Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with paint, at the Yale University Art Gallery (USA).

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – Mahacakra (2)

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, Mahacakra, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Mahacakra Vajrapani with three heads and six hands, a long snake in his mouth and  main hands, the top right hand wielding a vajra sceptre, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth, his flaming hair tied with a snake. He embraces his consort, who holds a skull cup and a flaying knife; she wears a leopard skin loin cloth and has a leg around his waist. The couple tread on two victims who represent ego and ignorance.

15th century (circa 1430), Central Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, made by Sonam Gyaltsen, photo by Bonhams.

On this Nepalese-style masterpiece, they have black hair.

and she wears a bone apron over a silk garment decorated with a floral pattern and auspicious symbols.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, Mahacakra, gilt copper, private collection, photo by castor-hara.

Whether with his consort or alone, his main right hand does a gesture to dispel fear, the left one expresses generosity.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, possibly mahacakra, gilt copper alloy with stones, private collection, photo by Xanadu.

Although one arm and the snake are missing, the position of the hands and the vajra sceptre he wields suggest this is wrathful Vajrapani in his mahacakra form.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy), at the British Museum in London (UK).

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms

Undated (11th-12th century?), Western Tibet?, Vajrapani, three-deities form, copper alloy and pigments, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Rarely seen in sculpture, this form of Vajrapani with one head, two hands and two legs normally has a horse’s head in his headdress to represent Hayagriva and a full-bodied garuda. He wields a five-prong vajra sceptre with the right hand and does a wrathful gesture with the other. His flaming hair is tied in a bunch with a snake and more snakes adorn his body. Here he is clad in a tight-fitting tiger skin engraved in the manner of the Ngari district sculptures, and appears to stand on nagas.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with pigments and cold gold, made by Chöying Dorje, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa (Tibet), published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

A creative work by the 10th karmapa, showing Vajrapani with a human face, squatting over a couple of victims who have been interpreted by Bonhams as garudas, on a rocky pedestal with two kneeling figures at the front.

He holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a mongoose in the other (normally associated with Jambhala).

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

One would expect to see a bell in his left hand, but on this other work ,where he is an attendant to Ushnishavijaya, he also holds a vajra sceptre and a mongoose.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled Hayagriva) gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Ader Nordmann.

In his mahacakra form he has three heads (sometimes four) and six hands (sometimes eight), the lower ones clutching a very long snake held between his teeth. He may be alone or with his consort and usually stands with both legs crushing two victims.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled Mahakala), bronze, at the San Diego Museum of Art.

Vajrapani in the Nilambara form, with one head with three eyes, two hands, in which he holds vajra sceptre and bell, two legs normally treading on a single victim lying on snakes.  He is adorned with snake anklets and bracelets, bone jewellery, a garuda in his headdress and another two on his chest. As, according to textual sources,  this form has no skull crown or garland of several heads the artist has adorned him a flowing celestial scarf and a crown made of floral panels.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, silver, location unknown, photo from the Huntington Archive.

In his chanda form, the left hand holds a lasso and does a wrathful gesture, usually with two fingers raised (karana mudra) to ward off evil, in this case with just the forefinger raised as a threatening gesture (tarjani mudra). Traditionally, he stands on a victim lying on a bed of serpents. Apart from the usual wrathful ornaments, this late example includes a cross-belt with skulls and a lion skin stretched across his back.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (13)

Undated, Tibet?, Vajrapani, krodha, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Very similar in style to a 12th century sculpture of Vighnantaka from Tibet, this work depicts the simplest form of wrathful (krodha) Vajrapani, with one head with three eyes, two hands and two legs. He brandishes a vajra sceptre with the right hand and holds a (missing) vajra-handled bell  in the other.

He wears a tiger skin dhoti knotted at the front, the head of the animal placed over his right knee.

He has silver-inlaid eyes and teeth, his flaming hair is tied with a snake. According to textual sources, this form of wrathful Vajrapani has no skull crown ora garland of severed heads. Instead, he is adorned with snakes, including a long one tied across the chest as a sacred cord.

15th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajrapani, parcel gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Later works often include a garland of severed heads. The above stands on two prone victims and wears a Chinese-style cross belt with a round breast plate. The rim of the single lotus base is decorated with scrolling vegetation.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with turquoise and silver inlay, traces of pigments, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

In his canda form, Vajrapani does a wrathful gesture with his left hand, in this case the forefinger is raised in a threatening manner (tarjani mudra).

He either stands on snakes or crushes an enemy (of the Buddhist faith). The above wears a mixture of stone-inlaid and snake adornments.

Undated, Tibet?, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

An example with both the forefinger and the little finger being raised while the others are pressed against the tip of the thumb, to ward off evil (karana mudra).

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy and pigment, private collection, photo by Arcimboldo.

We have seen before how the tiger skin is sometimes placed with the tail of the animal dangling at the front (especially from the 18th century onwards).

 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (12)

Tibet, Vajrapani, 1600-1700, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (USA).

Wrathful Vajrapani (‘the thunderbolt bearer’) brandishes a thunderbolt sceptre and holds bell upside-down, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth. both feet on twisted snakes (nagas), a garuda in his headdress and two garuda necklaces around his neck.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, at the museum of Asian Art in Berlin (Germany).

This other fierce Vajrapani wears a human hide over his back, a garland of freshly severed human heads around his neck, a five-skull crown over his orange flaming hair, snakes and beaded jewellery and the usual tiger skin loin cloth. The artist used lapis lazuli for the eyes, urna and cross-belt.

Undated (16th century circa?), Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, at the Beijing Museum (China).

When not holding a bell, his left hand does a symbolic gesture to keep evil spirits away.

Undated (16th century or earlier), Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, gilt metal with stone and coral inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

When depicted alone this form of wrathful Vajrapani has three heads with three eyes, 2 legs and 4 to 6 hands. There is a long snake in his mouth and main hands and he wears a princely crown on his main head (as opposed to a skull crown). The above has an effigy of a buddha in his headdress, a garland of fifty severed heads around his neck, a skull tiara on his side heads, a vajra in his top right hand.

 

 

 

 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (11)

Same as before, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Adorned with snakes and jewellery, this canda Vajrapani has the effigy of a buddha in his mitre-like chignon. The left hand displays the gesture to ward off evil and holds a folded lasso. He treads on two victims.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

A similar form of the deity holding a thunderbolt sceptre and a lasso, adorned with serpents and beaded jewellery and treading on twisted nagas. The undersized head and oversized sceptre may be due to the fact that parts were often cast separately.

Same as before, photo by Christie’s.

This one wears an incised celestial scarf and garland of freshly severed heads. He stands on snakes (nagas) over an incised base over a single lotus.

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

The above wears his tiger skin loin cloth loosely knotted at the front, the head of the animal seemingly devouring his right knee. There is a vajra finial on his chignon.

18th century,, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, at the British Museum in London (UK).