Tibet, Vajradaka (5)

17th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Mandarin Auction.

Undated (17th or later), Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

These two figures are very similar in style. The vajra sceptre is missing on the first one, the second comes complete with the charcoal burner, which is round and has three legs shaped like animal heads.

18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art.

The legs on this tripod are clearly shaped like pig’s heads.

Undated (17th or 18th century?), Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this other masterpiece and the next one, his legs are crossed.

Undated , Tibet, Vajradaka, bronze, published in Art of the Himalayas, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, Vajradaka, bronze (copper alloy), photo by Tibetan Relics.

Centuries of devotion have smoothed the surface of this figure, who sits on a lotus base with large roundish petals typical of the 16th century.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Vajradaka, copper alloy, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this equally old example, Vajradaka stands with his right leg bent, the other straight, both of them partly out of the lotus base.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt metal, at Musée Guimet in Paris (France), photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajradaka, bronze and paint, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Parcel-gilt to suit the Chinese taste, this item has also been painted with red pigment, probably to accentuate his wrathful nature. He is seated on a tiger skin, the head of the animal placed between his feet.

 

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Tibet, Vajradaka (4)

Undated, Tibet, Vajradaka, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This rare Vajradaka purification set is very similar to a circa 16th century brass one published in a previous post (sold by Christie’s). The square plinth with eight ornate legs supports a cylindrical pan perforated with holes (for the combustion of the charcoal inside) and decorated with an upright vajra. The deity squats on the lid, his hands crossed over his heart and holding a vajra sceptre and a vajra-handled bell, his head thrust back, the mouth wide open for the smoke to come out.

Undated (Malla period), Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, same as before.

This rare Nepalese-style item shows him standing with his right leg bent like most other wrathful deities do, and bedecked with turquoise-inlaid jewellery.

Undated, Tibet, metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He is short and pot-bellied, and normally naked. The above wears a tiger skin dhoti worn with the tail of the animal at the front, a feature often seen on 18th-19th century sculptures.

16th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, brass, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A side view of this example reveals long flaming hair gathered in a bunch.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, bronze, private collection, photo by Arcimboldo.

This one wears a helmet over his long hair, an interesting feature not normally associated with this deity.

Undated (circa 18th century?), Tibet, Vajradaka, metal, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

 

Undated (18th or 19th century), Tibet, Vajradaka, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He is adorned with a garland of severed heads and some jewellery including earrings, armbands, bracelets, and anklets. This late example, who has his legs crossed, wears a flowing celestial scarf with serpentine ends and matching crown ribbons.

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

When this blog was created, hardly any images of Vajradaka were available. Now there are a lot more (partly thanks to the very useful Himalayan Art Resources website – see link in left-hand margin) and we can observe that he may be standing, squatting or seated, in which case his legs may be crossed, gathered before him with both knees bent, or loosely gathered with only one knee bent as above.

Tibet, Vajradaka (3)

Vajradaka, Tibet, 17th c., bronze with c. inlay

Undated, Tibet, brass with copper inlay (third eye), private collection.

This is the top part of the charcoal burner, representing Vajradaka/Vajradhaka in a squatting position with a thunderbolt or vajra and a vajra-handled bell crossed over his heart. He is adorned with a five-skull crown attached with ribbons large lotus-design earrings and bone jewellery.

18th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, gilt copper alloy, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

Labelled 18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

This one is wearing a Chinese-style cross belt and a garland of severed human heads.

Undated, Tibet, Vajradhaka, silver,

Undated, Tibet, Vajradhaka, silver, on Himalayan Art Resources.

This silver figure has a leopard skin  wrapped around his waist

Tibet, Vajradaka (2)

16th century circa, Vajradhaka, Tibet, bronze, photo by Christie's.

Circa 16th ,Vajradaka, Tibet, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Vajradaka is always depicted with a thunderbolt or vajra and a bell, usually crossed over his heart. He has one head  adorned with a skull crown, three eyes, a gaping mouth, and always looks up (to let the smoke out). He may be standing, sitting or squatting. The base is often missing but the above sculpture  is complete with its hollow base designed to burn black sesame seeds for rituals. He wears a garland of fifty freshly severed heads, a cross belt, a tiger skin loin cloth and bone ornaments. He stands on a circular platform, the rim engraved with vajras, over a receptacle (the burner) decorated with a vajra and supported by a square plinth with a crescent moon topped with a vajra finial at each corner.

17th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, bronze, private collection

17th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, bronze, private collection, on arcimboldo.cz

17th c., Tibet, Vajradaka, c.a., arcimboldo, back

 

17th century, Tibet, Vajradhaka, brass, private collection.

17th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, brass, Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

Vajradaka, Tibet, 17th c., brass, rearview

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajradhaka,

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Vajradaka, copper alloy, photo by Bonhams.

On this sculpture his celestial scarf and the ribbons of his crown are going upwards in a snake-like design to suit the Chinese taste.

Tibet, three 18th c. Vajradaka sculptures

18th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, at the San Diego Museum of Art.

18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, gilt copper alloy, at the San Diego Museum of Art, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Vajradaka, an emanation of buddha Akshobhya, wears a tiger skin and holds a thunderbolt and bell crossed over his chest. He has three eyes and an open mouth with four fangs. Sometimes standing, usually squatting, adorned with a garland of freshly severed heads, a skull crown, bone jewellery and a celestial scarf, this meditational deity is related to fire rituals for purification and the sculptures are usually the upper part of something similar to an incense burner. The lower part, in the form of a tripod or a hollow base, is often missing. Black sesame seeds are burnt inside and the smoke comes out of the gaping mouth.

Vajradaka, Tibeto-chinese, 18th c., copper alloy, 13 cm, Sotheby's

18th century, Tibet, Chinese artist, copper alloy, private collection.

Vajradaka, Tibet, 18th c., bronze, traces of gilding, 28 cm

18th century, Tibet, dark bronze with traces of gilding, Rubin Museum of Art.