Tibet, Chakrasamvara – 12 hands (6)

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

The main deity in yoga tantra, Chakrasamvara has many forms, with 1 or 4 heads, 2 or 12 hands, but always two legs, usually standing on two victims.

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy and pigment, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Following the Luipa tradition, on this sculpture Vajrayogini has both legs around Chakrasamvara’s waist. They are adorned with bone jewellery studded with turquoise, a garland of severed heads for him, a garland of skulls for her. In Tibet, the 12-hand form of this deity normally holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands and the hide of an elephant in his upper hands. When depicted with his consort he holds a ritual staff, a skull cup, a noose, Brahma’s head (missing here), a drum, an axe, a knife and a vajra on a stick (or a trident) in the other hands. The consort holds a flaying knife and a skull cup.

Undated (15th or 16th century?), Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy and pigments, at a mountain sanctuary, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The two victims are Kalaratri and Bhairava (ego and ignorance).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, bronze, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A distinctive feature of Chakrasamvara is the visvajra and a crescent moon in his headdress.

18th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy, at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City (USA).

 

 

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Tibet, Chakrasamvara – 12 hands (5)

Labelled 11th century, Western Tibet (also labelled China, 17th century), Chakrasamvara mandala, brass, Kashmir school, is or was at the Lima Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This rare works depicts the 4-head and 12-hand form of Chakrasamvara standing on Kalaratra and Bhairava and embracing with his consort, who has one leg around his waist. He holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands crossed over Vajravarahi’s back, the hide of an elephant in his upper hands, a trident, an axe, a knife, a vajra stick in the remaining right hands; a (partly broken) skull cup, Brahma’s four heads, a broken implement and a noose in the remaining left hands. She holds a knife and, presumably, a skull cup (not visible here). His head is topped with a visvajra and a crescent moon, they wear three-skull crowns and bone jewellery, a garland of severed heads for him, a garland of skulls for her. Their faces are painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair dyed with blue pigment. The flaming arch and halo behind them are decorated with pots topped with a skull cup and wrathful deities standing on a victim.

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

On this example the crescent moon is on the other side of his chignon and the visvajra is at the front. He holds the usual implements in his main hands, possibly the extremities of an elephant hide in the upper ones, a drum, an axe, a flaying knife, another implement (which should be a trident but doesn’t look like one) in the remaining right hands; a staff with a head and three skulls, a skull cup, a noose, Brahma’s four heads in the remaining left hands. She wears a bone apron with raining jewel pendants, bone jewellery and a garland of skull. He wears a tiger skin dhoti, the head of the animal resting over his left thigh, bones jewellery, a garland of human heads and a bone apron with heads and raining jewel pendants.

Same as before with turquoise inlay, private collection photo by Bonhams.

The elephant hide is often missing and all that remains are the extremities of the animal in Chakrasamvara’s upper hands. The above has a full hide across his back.

Tibet, Chakrasamvara – various forms (3)

17th century, Tibet, White Chakrasamvara (labelled Amitayus), gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (USA).

Rarely seen in sculpture, the white form of Chakrasamvara has one head with three eyes, two hands, two legs, and is always seated with the consort (on paintings they may be standing).  She holds two skull cups and he holds two long-life vases.

16th century, Southern Tibet or Nepal, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

This rare works depicts another form, with one head and four arms, standing with his consort, her legs wrapped around his waist. He holds a drum and a ritual staff in the upper hands, a vajra sceptre and a bell in the main ones across her back. Vajrayogini wears an intricate bone apron fastened with a belt with raining jewels and a garland of skulls. He wears a long garland of severed heads around his neck.

Undated, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, at the Tibet House museum in New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A very similar image, possibly from the same period and which may also have had a tall plinth below.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This Densatil-style sculpture depicts him with four heads and six hands. The upper ones hold the legs of an elephant (whose hide he usually wears across his back), the middle ones hold a bell and what looks like a noose (although one would expect a thunderbolt sceptre), the remaining hands hold a drum and a skull cup.

Undated (16th century circa), Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt metal, at a mountain sanctuary, published on Himalayan Art Rsources.

Most sculptures of Chakrasamvara depict him in his four-head and twelve-hand form, with Vajrayogini, his feet over two victims and holding a series of attributes discussed in previous posts. She may have one or both legs around his waist.

Tibet, Chakrasamvara – Sahaja Heruka (4)

Late 15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper with pigment and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This form of the deity has one head and two arms and stands with the consort, Vajrayogini, their legs in the same position (as in the Newar tradition).

His hair is tied in a chignon topped with a wish-granting jewel and he usually has a visvajra and a crescent moon in his headdress.

She holds a skull cup and a flaying knife, and wears a leopard skin loin cloth and a garland of skulls; he wears a tiger skin and a garland of freshly severed heads and holds a vajra sceptre and a bell across her back.

Undated, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy with pigment and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this more archaic work the low skull-tiara reveals a large visvajra in his headdress and a small crescent moon to his left-hand side.

16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

His consort has both legs around his waist, a Tibetan variant attributed to the teachings of various Mahasiddhas such as Luipa and Maitripa (as explained by John C. Huntington and Dina Bangdel in The Circle of Bliss, Serindia Publications, Chicago, 2003).

Between the 15th and 17th century it is not uncommon for deities, whether seated or standing, to have billowing scarves forming an arch around them.

Undated (16th-17th century?), Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt metal and pigment, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Tibet, Chakrasamvara – 12 hands (4)

16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The deity and his consort stand on two victims, over a single lotus base with an unusual petal arrangement and geometrical incisions between two rows of beading.

He has four heads with three eyes and twelve arms, she has one head and two arms. They both wear skull crowns and turquoise-inlaid jewellery. He has a crescent moon and an effigy of buddha Akshobhya in his headdress and large earrings shaped like four-petal flowers recalling visvajras (double thunderbolt sceptres).

Same as before, photo by Christie’s.

They hold the usual attributes, skull cup and flaying knife for her, elephant hide, drum, axe, flaying knife, vajra sceptre, trident, for him in his right hands, elephant hide, staff, skull cup, noose, Brahma’s head on the other side.

16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel auctions.

Vajrayogini usually stands on one leg and holds the other around his waist.

16th century, Western Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy and pigments, at the Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

He normally has black or bluish hair but this one has red hair.

16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

On this and the previous example the consort has both legs around his waist, a feature observed on 16th and 16th-17th century works (and associated with the Luipa tradition).

Same as before, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Her hair is often painted with red pigment.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, wood and pigment, private collection, photo by Koller.

 

 

Tibet, Chakrasamvara – 12 arms (3)

15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Standing on two victims, Chakrasamvara with four heads and twelve hands embraces his consort, Vajrayogini, who has one head and two hands.

Same, brass, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

He holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands crossed over her back, she holds a vajra-handled flaying knife and a skull cup (but may hold two vajras instead), and wears a bone apron and a garland of skulls.

Same as before, photo by Anne Lozes.

He holds the hide of an elephant stretched across his back and wears a garland of 50 freshly severed human heads.

15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

His remaining right hands hold an axe, a drum, a flaying knife and a trident, the left hands hold a skull cup, a noose, a staff, Brahma’s head with four faces.

Same, photo by Koller.

The order may vary but the lower hands normally hold the trident and Brahma’s head.

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

He often has a crescent moon in his headdress, to his left-hand side.

Tibet, Chakrasamvara – Heruka

16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This is a rare sculpture of Chakrasamvara alone, in his heruka form (one head with three eyes, two hands), holding the standard thunderbolt sceptre and bell, hands crossed over his heart, his headdress adorned with a crescent moon. He is adorned with  wrathful ornaments and stands on two victims.

16th c., Tibet, Chakrasamvara Heruka, c.a., face

There is a ritual staff leaning against his left arm and traces of cold gold on his face.

Undated, 16th century?, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi.

Undated, 16th century?, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi.

Sometimes this form of Chakrasamvara is simply called Heruka.