Tibet, various wrathful figures

11th century (or later?), Western Tibet, wrathful male, polychrome clay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Probably a retinue figure, this angry personage with three eyes, red hair, a green body, wears a tiger skin loin cloth and a garland of flowers, his attributes are missing.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Damcan (Dorje Legpa), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

Dorje Legpa with one head, three eyes, two hands, riding a goat, wearing a silk cloak, a cane hat and felt boots. He has both arms stretched and wields a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a (missing) human heart in the other.

18th century, Tibet or Nepal, Pehar, Monbuputra aspect, bone, at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (USA).

Monbuputra, the body aspect of Pehar, has one head, two hands, and rides a white lioness. He brandishes a vajra sceptre in his right hand and holds a danda staff (or a sabre) in the other.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Buddhakapala? (labelled Buddakepala), bronze with paint, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Each with one head, three eyes, two hands, the couple stands in a dancing pose, one foot on a victim. She is naked and holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. Buddhakapala normally has four arms, the main hands holding a flaying knife and a skull cup, the upper arms holding a drum and a staff. The above holds a vajra sceptre and a skull cup. He wears the flayed skin of a human over his back.

Guru Dragpo, Tibet or Nepal, 18th century, bone, at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (USA).

This wratfhul form of Padmasambhava always holds a scorpion in his left hand and a vajra sceptre in the other, he stands on two victims and has the hide of an elephant on his back.

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

A semi-wrathful form of Vajrasattva, Vajravidarana may have three eyes and be semi-peaceful, holding a visvajra at heart level and a bell against his hip.

14th-15th century, Western Tibet, Bhairava as a trampled victim from a Chakrasamvara shrine, painted clay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Bhairava is a wrathful male Hindu deity who regularly appears in Tibetan art as a victim representing the ego. He is often paired with his female counterpart, Kalaratri, who represents ignorance.

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Tibet, Kalachakra and Vishvamata (2)

14th century, Tibet, Kalachakra, gilt copper with stones and pigment, is or was at a monastery in Shigatse (Tibet), photo from the Huntington Archive.

Sculptures of Kalachakra normally depict him with four heads with hair tied together and decorated with a visvajra and a crescent moon, and 24 hands, in which he holds various attributes. This meditational deity is always in union with his consort, Vishvamata. They often tread on two victims with four arms each, holding various attributes and accompanied by two kneeling female figures.

 

Following the Newari fashion, the deities are adorned with princely accessories inlaid with small stone and coral cabochons, including raining jewel pendants at the extremities of their celestial scarves. Even the rim of the double lotus base is decorated with turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Kalachakra, gilt copper alloy with stones and pigments, private collection, Sotheby’s.

His consort, also known as Kalachakri or Kalichakra, may have one or four heads and two to eight arms.

17th century, Tibet, Kalachakra, gilt copper alloy and gems, private collection, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

The attributes he usually holds are a vajra sceptre, a sword, a trident, a flaying knife, a flaming arrow, a hook, a drum, a hammer, a wheel, a spear, a stick, a battle axe, a bell, a shield, a ritual staff, a skull cup, a bow, a lasso, a jewel, a lotus, a conch shell, a mirror, a chain and Brahma’s head with four faces.

Undated, Tibet, Kalachakra, gilt metal, at a mountain sanctuary, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

 

Tibet, Guhyasamaja – Akshobhyavajra (3)

Undated (15th or 16th century?), Tibet, Guhyasamaja, Akshobhyavajra, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Akshobhyavajra, a meditational deity with three heads and six arms, sits in embrace with his consort, who also has three heads and six arms.

Same as before.

They hold the same attributes: a wheel, a vajra sceptre, a sword, a bell,  a lotus and a jewel, and are bedecked with bodhisattva jewellery and crowns.

16th century, Tibet, Guhyasamaja, Akshobhyavajra, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

His chignon is usually adorned with a flaming jewel and may have a small effigy of a buddha, barely perceptible behind the crown (in this case one holding a triple gem according to Nagel).

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

The Akshobhyavajra form of Guhyasamaja and his consort always hold a vajra sceptre and a bell in their main hands, his are crossed behind her back, hers are behind his neck. The order of the remaining attributes varies. Here is holds a dharma wheel decorated with turquoise cabochon in his lower right hand and a lotus flower in the next one up. His left hands hold a sword and a flaming triple gem (triratna).

16th-17 century, Tibet, Akshobhyavajra, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s

The vajra sceptre they hold is the symbol of Akshobhya, the wheel is the symbol of Vairocana, the lotus represents Amitabha, the jewel is the symbol of Ratnasambhava and the sword is associated with Amoghasiddhi.

14th century, Tibet, possibly Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja (classed as a retinue figure on the Himalayan Art Resources website), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This three-headed figure is alone and holds a wheel and a bell in the main hands, a lotus  and a vajra sceptre in the remaining right hands, a sword and a flaming jewel in the other left hands. He is seated on a single lotus atop a cut-out throne supported by two lions and decorated with a vase containing scrolling vegetation.

16th century, Tibet, Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja retinue figure? (labelled Amoghasiddhi), gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel.

A similar character, holding a sword and a bell in the main hands, a wheel and a flaming jewel in the upper hands, a vajra sceptre and a lotus flower in the lower hands. seated on a single lotus over a throne decorated with studded leaves, an embossed visvajra (associated with Amoghasiddhi and a few more deities), foliage and thick beading, the plinth finely incised with a floral motif.

This single figure also has the effigy of a buddha behind his crown.

 

 

Tibet, Dorje Legpa (3)

Dorje Legpa is often labelled Damcan, Demchen, Dhamchen, Damchen or Dam Can, which is a general term for a type of wrathful deity. Dorje Legpa (Vajrasadhu in sanskrit) may ride a goat, a lion, sometimes a camel. He often wears a large hat, and has a two-hand form and a six-hand form. Small metal sculptures of him are rare, some of them actually correspond to his main attendant (see below), most of them are late Tibeto-Chinese productions (made in China by a Tibetan artist).

Undated, Tibet, Dorje Legpa, bronze, Katimari collection, on Himalayan Art Resources.

He always holds a vajra sceptre high up in his right hand and a wrenched human heart before his chest.

18th century, Tibet, Dorje Legpa (labelled Garwa Nagpo), gilt bronze (copper alloy) and pigments, private collection photo by Hargeisheimer.

In his six-hand form he has three heads, each with three eyes, and holds weapons (missing here). These would normally be a pike, a bow, a sword in the right hands, a scimitar, an arrow, a baton in the left hands. This form looks very much like the six-hand form of Pehar, which we have seen in a previous post.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Garwa Nagpo (labelled Dorje Legpa), gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

His main attendant, Garwa Nagpo always has one head, with three eyes, and two arms held horizontally.  He rides a billy goat with twisted horns, and holds a hammer and a pair of bellows (missing here).

Circa 18th century, Tibet?, Garwa Nagpo, metal, is or was at the Phoenix Art Museum, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He is also a deity by himself, being the special protector of some Gelug monateries.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Garwa Nagpo, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

He wears long clothes made of black silk, and felt boots. The above rides a sea of blood, a feature very common on late Tibetan or Tibeto-Chinese statues of wrathful deities. His attributes are an upraised hammer and some bellows, which are the tools of a blacksmith.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Garwa Nagpo (labelled Damcan), gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Dorje Ta’og, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.Often mistaken for Dorje Legpa, Dorje Ta’og has one head and two hands and may ride a snow lion or a black horse. He holds an upraised vajra sceptre in his right hand and may have a vase in his left hand before his chest. This deity is specific to the Sera monastery.

 

 

 

Tibet, wrathful deities with heart

18th-19th century, Tibet, Dorje Shugden, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Sculptures of this worldly protector are few and relatively recent. His cult was banned by the 14th dalai lama in the 1980s. He has one head, two hands and two legs and rides a snow lion or a black horse. He wears a riding helmet (missing here) and flowing garments, and holds a ripped human heart close to his mouth with his left hand while brandishing a (missing) curved knife or a butcher’s stick  in the other.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Begtse Chen, copper alloy, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

We saw a very similar sculpture of Begtse Chen attributed to Tibet and dated 18th century. The above has slightly different accessories and facial features, and the face has been painted with cold gold and pigments.

Begtse Chen wears a Mongolian armour and holds a sword with a scorpion hilt in his right hand and the heart of his enemies in the other. The above also holds a spear with a banner, and an arrow. His left foot crushes a human being and his right foot tramples on an animal (traditionally a horse).

Undated, Tibet, Begtse Chen, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Here the artist has depicted him with his hair tied in a bunch and topped with a lotus finial. The Rubin Museum tells us that he is adorned with a mirror (worn as a breast plate) and a garland of severed heads.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Pehar (or Dorje Legpa?), copper alloy with traces of gilding, published on http://www.the-saleroom.com

The form of Pehar who rides a lion normally has three heads and six arms. Dorje Legpa in his two-hand form may ride a lion, a goat or a camel. He holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a human heart in the other, as the above figure. Both may wear a cymbal-shaped hat.

16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, painted wood, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

The four-arm form of Mahakala (chaturbhuja) seated may hold a skull cup and a heart, or a coconut fruit shaped like a human heart. The above holds what looks like one, painted with red pigment.

 

 

Tibet, various paired deities

15th-16th century, Tibet, Chemchok Heruka with consort, bronze (copper alloy) and cold gold, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Chemchok Heruka is the Tibetan name for a form of Shri Heruka with three heads and six hands, 4 legs and 2 wings. He embraces his consort (who has one head, two arms and two legs) and holds a vajra sceptre in each right hand, a skull cup in each left hand (on paintings he may have different attributes). The faces are painted with cold gold and the hair and eyebrows with red pigment. They are adorned with crowns and princely jewellery inlaid with turquoise. They stand on two victims.

14th century, Tibet, Densatil or Densatil-style, Buddhakapala and Citrasena, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This meditational deity may be alone or with a consort. He has one head with three eyes, four hands, two legs. She has one head, two hands, two legs, one of them around his waist, and is naked. He wears the wrathful ornaments, including a five-skull crown and a garland of 50 severed heads, and holds a skull cup and a flaying knife in his main hands crossed over her back, a drum and a ritual staff in the remaining ones.

14th century, Tibet, Buddhakapala and consort, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

They each stand on a leg over a victim.

She holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

18th century, Tibet, Chitipati, painted terracotta, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Apart from the dancing skeletons seen on bone aprons used for the Cham dance, there is another pair of dancing skeleton known as Chitipati (Shri Shmashana Adhipati in sanskrit). This ‘father and mother’ pair have a frightful skeletal form, with three eyes and protruding fangs. They stand in a dancing posture, are adorned with a skull crown and hold a skull cup and a skull-tipped stick. In some cases, she holds a long-life vase and a stalk of grain on a stick, as above. She wears a garland of skull and he wears a garland of freshly severed heads, as is often the case with paired deities with a wrathful appearance.

17th-18th century, Tibet or Himalayas, Citipati or Kinkara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

For the sake of comparison, this dancing skeleton is unlikely to be part of a Chitipati set since he is alone. Besides, he only has two eyes, isn’t adorned with wrathful ornaments, and his left hand doesn’t seem to have held any attribute. He wears an interesting cape with a cloud pattern, of the sort we have seen on Padmasambhava works of more or less the same period.

 

 

 

 

Tibet, unidentified wrathful deities (3)

13th century, Tibet, unidentified, copper alloy with pigment, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This masterpiece depicts a wrathful deity with three heads, six hands and four legs, clad in a tiger skin, adorned with snakes, a garland of skulls and a skull crown. jewellery and a thin celestial scarf, an elephant hide over his back.

He holds a skull cup and a vajra sceptre (instead of a flaying knife) in his main hands…

An arrow, a human corpse, a drum and possibly a vajra-noose in the others.

He stands on two victims, possibly Kalaratri and Bhairava.

There is a form of Yamantaka (Krishna Yamari) with three heads and six hands  who holds various attributes including a human corpse (impaled on a tree, on paintings), a noose and a vajra sceptre but he normally has two legs and one of his attributes is a sword.

15th century, Tibet, unidentified, brass, is or was at the Potala in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This rare item depicts a 17-head deity (four stacks of four heads plus one head on top, all of them with three eyes), in embrace with his consort who only has one head. It is not clear how many arms they each have. We have seen several examples of a rare form of namasangiti Manjushri with two hands held above his head, but they all have only one head, twelve hands and no consort.

17th century, Tibet, heruka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.This  wrathful meditational deity is depicted with his consort, who holds a long-life vase in her left hand. Their other attributes are now missing.