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.

 

 

 

 

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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).

 

 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (10)

14th century, Tibet, labelled blue Vajravidarana, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Hollywood Galleries.

The deity Vajravidarana has a wrathful form with a blue body but his distinctive attribute is a double thunderbolt sceptre (visvajra) whereas the above holds a single one (vajra) and is more likely the Nila Vajravidarana form of Vajrapani. He stands on two victims and holds a bell (ghanta) upside-down in his left hand. He is adorned with snakes.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, photo by Prajna Gallery, published on http://www.fareastasianart.com

The same form with a Chinese-style cross-belt and garland of severed heads.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, private collection, photo by Walter Harader, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Among the various forms of Vajrapani with a wrathful appearance several of them depict him with a human face. The above has flaming hair fastened into a mitre-like chignon and adorned with a skull tiara. He wears princely jewellery, a dhoti and a sash but also a tiger skin around his waist.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, painted clay, made by Choying Dorje, photo by N. Ronge, published by Ian Alsop.

One of the many and highly original works by the tenth Karmapa, this sculpture depicts Vajrapani seated on a lotus supported by a prostrated cow. He holds the vajra sceptre in his left hand, the other arm is broken.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (USA).

 

 

Tibet, Vajrapani – Canda (2)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with pigment, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

In his popular canda form wrathful Vajrapani normally brandishes a single thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) in his right hand; the above holds a double one (visvajra). He wears snake ornaments, a tiger skin around his waist, foliate jewellery and matching crown with rosettes, large floral earrings and a celestial scarf. His flaming hair is topped with a lotus bud finial.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, hollow brass with pigments, stone and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

His left hand may do a threatening gesture with the forefinger raised, or a gesture to ward off evil, as above. His tiger skin dhoti is fastened with a snake. His facial hair and mitre-like chignon are painted with orange pigment to signify his wrathful nature.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, silver with turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral inlay, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

Although this one has lost his attribute, the position of the hands are those of canda Vajrapani.

 

 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (9)

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

Standing on snakes, Canda Vajrapani wields a vajra in his right hand  and does the tarjani mudra with the other. He wears an animal skin (tiger or leopard) round his hips, snake ornaments and a low crown. His celestial scarf forms a frame around him.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, photo by Gallerie Petillon.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, photo by Gallerie Petillon.

The above wears another animal skin on his back (lion or leopard) and is adorned with a festooned bone belt and a Chinese-style cross belt.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani. gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie's.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani. gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this later work, he is adorned with a garland of severed heads and stands on two victims.

Same as before.

Same as before.

Tiger skins worn as loin cloths are often knotted around the waist with the paws of the animal dangling at the front and with the head resting over the right knee as if devouring it.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (8)

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Wrathful Vajrapani normally has flaming hair arranged in a mitre-like shape and often dyed red.

15th c., Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, face, Navin Kumar on HAR

The above wears an elaborate skull crown and has a half vajra finial on top of his hair. He is adorned with the 8 snake ornaments (2 bracelets, 2 armbands, 2 anklets, a necklace and a sacred cord). He also wears a Chinese-style cross belt and  billowing scarf.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The artist has shaped this Vajrapani’s eyebrows like snakes and given him sharp facial features. He wears large floral earrings and matching bracelets, armbands, anklets and necklace, a long beaded necklace and a sacred cord – no snake ornaments or tiger skin.

Undated (15th-16th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (15th-16th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

In his most common form, wrathful Vajrapani holds a vajra high up in his right hand and does the tarjani (or the karana) mudra with the left. His snake ornaments are sometimes mixed with princely jewellery (especially from the 15th century onwards).

15th-16th c?, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze+pig., close up

The above has an Indian-style tiara (front panel missing) with large bows and rosettes on each side, serpentine earrings, a long snake worn as a sacred cord, incised curly eyebrows, a thin moustache over his well-formed lips and a curly beard below his chin, a row of neat curls below the rim of his crown and raised flaming hair fastened with a snake and arranged into scalloped layers. His wrathful yet benign, almost friendly expression is typical of Tibetan works.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy and pigment, Shelley and Donald Rubin's collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy and pigment, Shelley and Donald Rubin’s collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The deity occasionally has a bell in his right hand while doing the karana mudra. 

16th c., Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt c.a.+pig., 26,04 cm, face, Shelley+Donald Rubin

This one also has a five-leaf crown with a wire that links the panels to protect them in a decorative way. There is a scarf  attached to his back that shows under his right arm and next to his left hip.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (7)

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

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

This very old sculpture depicts Vajrapani in his Mahacakra form, with 3 heads and six hands, standing on Brahma and Shiva. There is a long snake in his mouth and between two of his hands, a vajra and a ghanta in his upper hands, the main ones are held at heart level and hold an object. He is adorned with  low tiaras and simple jewellery. This form of Vajrapani is a meditational deity. He doesn’t wear a skull crown or a garland of severed heads.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection.

This Vajrapani stands on entwined snakes held by a Garuda below him. He wears a tiger skin dhoti and is adorned with jewellery and snakes. Unlike most other examples, he holds the vajra in his left hand and does the kartari mudra with the other.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

Although he has lost his attribute, the position of his right hand indicates that it held a vajra, and his left hand does the tarjani mudra, which identifies him as Vajrapani, clad in a leopard skin dhoti and adorned with snakes.

15th c., Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze+ pig., detail

He wears a very ornate five-skull crown and a v-shaped necklace with an incised motif. The smoothness of his body contours and the square face with generous facial features are typical of Tibetan works.

Same as before, gilt copper alloy with stones, at the Pacific Asia Museum (USA).

Same as before, gilt copper alloy with stones, at the Pacific Asia Museum (USA).

This richly gilt sculpture has him standing over a single-lotus base, wielding his vajra and doing the tarjani mudra as above, adorned with a foliate crown decorated with bows, a thin scarf with raining jewels at each extremity, a snake across his chest as a sacred cord, and some stone-inlaid jewellery.