Tibet, Vajrakila

Vajrakila/Vajrakilaya or Vajrakumara is a semi-wrathful meditational deity (known as heruka) who embodies the activity of all buddhas. On paintings, he is always depicted with his consort but on sculptures he may be alone and usually has wings.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrakilaya, brass, at the Newark Museum (USA).

14th century, Tibet, Vajrakilaya, brass, at the Newark Museum (USA).

He has 3 faces with 3 eyes and bared fangs, a half-vajra finial on top of his head, six hands with various attributes. On the above picture, two of the left hands hold a trident, two of the right hands hold a thunderbolt or vajra, the other right hand has the palm open in a symbolical gesture and the remaining left hand holds a ritual dagger know as kila (phurba or phurbu in Tibetan). He wears a tiger skin loin cloth, a human skin and an elephant hide over his back and is adorned with snakes. His (4) legs normally tread on two victims.

His lower body may be a kila, topped with a makara (mythical creature) and decorated with snakes.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vajrakila, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vajrakila, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection.

Undated, Tibet, bronze with stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, bronze with stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

On the above, he is holding the kila in his main hands at heart level, above the head of the makara.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrakila and consort, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, photo by Christie's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrakila and consort, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, photo by Christie’s.

On this Nepalese-style sculpture, Vajrakila holds a kila in his main hands at heart level, two vajras with his remaining right hands, a trident and a branch in the remaining left hands.  His consort, Dipta Chakra, holds a skull cup and a flaying knife and wears a bone apron.12th-13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

12th-13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

This earlier version shows him with a kila in his main hands, two vajras in the other right hands, a trident and a staff with a skull and a vajra finial in the other left hands. She is wearing a leopard-skin loin cloth or dhoti.

16th century, Tibet, bronze with pigment and cold gold, at the Basel Museum

16th century, Tibet, bronze with pigment and cold gold, at the Basel Museum der Kulturen.

This later version shows him with wings spread open, holding two vajras, a kila, a branch of  myrobalan tree and part of another attribute, possibly a trident.

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Tibet, a rare Vajrakila and consort sculpture

16th century, Tibet, copper repoussé and wood, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

16th century, Tibet, copper repoussé and wood, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The deity is depicted with three wrathful faces, each with three eyes, six hands, four holding vajras and tridents, the other two embracing his consort, Dipta Chakra, and holding a three-blade knife or kila (phur.ba or phur.bu in Tibetan) at heart level. They have no legs, their upper bodies end in a kila shape decorated with six snakes and topped with a makara head. He has upward-going (flaming) orange hair and bushy eyebrows, and is adorned with skull crowns, a garland of 50 severed heads and some snakes. Her arms are extended out and she holds a skull cup and a flaying knife (or chopper).

Western Tibet, Vajrakila

13th-14th century, Western Tibet, Vajrakila, copper alloy, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

13th-14th century, Western Tibet, Vajrakila, leaded brass and pigment, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Vajrakila, a semi-wrathful deity or Heruka, has three faces, each with three eyes and bared fangs, and six hands, two of them holding a knife with a triangular blade or kila (now missing) at heart level, the other right hands holding thunderbolts or vajras and the left ones holding tridents (now missing). He is adorned with snakes, a garland of 50 freshly severed heads, a tiger skin lower garment (held in place with a cloth belt in the West Tibetan fashion) and has wrathful deities in his headdress. He is standing on two corpses.