Tibet, Vajrabhairava and consort (3)

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava and consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, pigments and cold gold, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Among the many paired deities of  Tibetan buddhism Vajrabhairava is the one whose main head is always a buffalo head. The above has 9 heads arranged in a circular pattern (seven below, one on the second row, Manjushri’s head at the top), 34 hands and 16 legs, standing on victims.

18th century circa, Tibet, Yamantaka Vajrabhairava and consort, gilt copper alloy and pigment, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The consort, Vajravetali, has one head, two hands in which she holds a flaying knife and a skull cup, two legs – one of them around his waist. The victims he tramples are a mixture of animals (mammals, birds, humans).

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy, photo by Ethnologica, published on http://www.asianart.com

His upper hands normally hold the front legs of an elephant hide worn on his back. On late sculptures they both wear a garland, skulls for her, severed heads for him.

same, photo by Bonhams.

Here the garland almost reaches the pedestal.

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Tibet, Vajrabhairava alone (2)

15th century, Tibet, Ekavira Vajrabhairava, bronze and pigments, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

Vajrabhairava is an aspect of Yamantaka and may be depicted alone or with his consort. In the ekavira (solitary) form he has 34 arms and may have 1 or 9 heads and 2 or 16 legs. The above has 9 stacked heads, the main one is a buffalo head with three eyes, the top one is Manjushri’s orange head, the others are wrathful ones. His main hands hold a flaying knife and a skull cup. There is a garland of 5o severed heads around his neck. He stands on victims over a lotus platform with attendants around it, supported by a double-lotus pedestal.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, labelled Yamantaka Yab-Yum, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the San Diego Museum of Art (USA).

On this example we can see that he treads on birds, mammals and humans. His heads are arranged in a ‘circular’ pattern, with the main buffalo head and three wrathful heads on each side, topped with a wrathful head and Manjushri’s. The upper hands hold an elephant hide, the main ones hold the usual flaying knife and skull cup.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt brass with copper inlay and pigment, at the Musée Guimet in Paris (France).

A more modern version, with stacked heads.

16th century, Tibet, Yamantaka, bronze with cold gold and pigment, published on http://www.haymanhimalayanart.hk

This form of the deity is known as heruka or sahaja heruka. He has one (buffalo) head with three eyes and a skull crown, two hands holding a flaying knife and a skull cup at heart level, two legs, a garland of fifty severed heads and an elephant hide over his back (we can see the head of the animal against his right shoulder). He may stand on a prostrate bull.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published in the Werner Forman Archive.

On this ityphallic variant with one head, two hands and two legs, he stands on a corpse over a bull with a dakini engraved on its rump.

 

 

 

Tibet, Yamantaka (2)

Undated, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (12th century or earlier?), Tibet, Krishna Yamari, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Yamantaka (‘enemy of Yama’/’destroyer of death’) is a generic term referring to various forms. One of them is Krishna Yamari,  an emanation of Manjushri.

This early sculpture depicts him with a peaceful head, 2 arms, 2 legs, standing on a buffalo with his left leg over the head of the animal, clad in a tiger skin dhoti and adorned with the 8 snake ornaments, one of them to tie his flaming hair. His right hand appears to have held a sword, he does the karana mudra with the other.

14th century, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, gilt copper alloy and pigment, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

14th century, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, gilt copper alloy and pigment, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This is the three-head six-hand form, with the consort. He has wrathful faces with three eyes and bared fangs, the flaming hair tied into a bunch with a snake, and is adorned with skull crowns and a garland of freshly severed heads. In his right hands he holds a vajra, a sword and a skull cup containing an object. In his left hands he holds a vajra hammer, a ploughshare and a skull cup filled with blood. They stand on two corpses on a pedestal decorated with two bulls and a lotus flower.

15th-16th century, Tibet, wrathful Manjushri, bronze, private collection.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Yamantaka, bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Again with three wrathful faces and six arms, but without the consort, adorned with the skull crowns, garland of freshly severed heads, snakes and tiger skin loincloth, standing on a double-lotus base over a plinth decorated with bulls. He holds various attributes including a vajra in his lower right hand and a vajra pestle in his middle left hand.

15th-16th c., Tibet, Krishna Yamari, labelled Yamantaka, c.a., 28,9 cm, garuda on head

He has a garuda (khyung in Tibetan) on his head and on his top arms.

15th-16th c., Tibet, Krishna Yamari, labelled Yamantaka, c.a., 28,9 cm, deity on chest with deity on chest

On his chest, there is a cross belt with a deity brandishing a lotus, and on its chest an effigy of the same deity…

 

 

Tibet, Yamantaka

11th century circa, Tibet, Yamantaka, gilt copper alloy and pigment, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

11th century circa, Tibet, Manjushri Yamantaka, gilt copper alloy and pigment, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Yamantaka (the enemy of Yama/death), an emanation of Manjushri, is identified beyond doubt on this rare and very old sculpture through an inscription on the base that says ‘Manjushri Yamantaka’. The deity may have one head, 2 hands and 2 legs, or 3 to 6 heads, 6 to 10 hands, 2 to 6 legs. Here, he is shown with five heads plus Manjushri’s head at the top, 2 legs and 12 hands, from which most attributes are missing except for a thunderbolt or vajra and a wheel of dharma. He is adorned with cobra snakes and a tiger or leopard skin loin cloth, lotus earrings, and 5 crowns which feature the 5 cosmic or dyani buddhas.

15th century, Tibet, Yamantaka and consort, copper alloy and pigment, photo by arcimboldo.cz

15th century, Tibet, Yamantaka and consort, copper alloy and pigment, on arcimboldo.cz

This is an equally rare sculpture of Yamantaka, with three heads, six arms, two legs, and his consort, Vajravetali, who has one heads, six arms and two feet.

15th c., Tibet, Yamantaka and consort, c.a.+pig., close up

The heads have three eyes, flaming hair joined into one bunch, bared fangs. They are adorned with skull crowns.

 

18th century, Tibet, Yamantaka, gilt copper alloy and pigment, photo by Christie's.

18th century, Tibet, Yamantaka, gilt copper alloy and pigment, photo by Christie’s.

This more modern version shows him standing on a prostrate bull over a human victim, with one head and four hands, adorned with a garland of skulls and a Chinese-style festooned belt and upward-flying ribbons holding a skull crown.

 

 

Tibet, Rakta Yamari

Part of a set of deities known as Yamantaka (the enemy of Yama) – an emanation of Manjushri, Rakta Yamari is a meditational deity with a human face, 2 arms and 2 legs. Normally represented with his consort, he is much larger than hers and often has an oversized head.  Like Yama, he stands on a victim over a bull or on a bull alone. For this reason, they are often confused (and mis-labelled by museums or auction houses). In fact, two of the pictures below were previously inserted in the Yama and Yami post, but Yama always has a buffalo head.

12th c., Tibet, Rakta Yamari, Tibetan trad., gilt cop., 19 cm, Alain Bordier

12th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari and consort (Vajravetali), gilt copper, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

14th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper alloy and pigment, photo by Christie's.

14th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, bronze and pigment, photo by Christie’s.

He holds a sword in his right hand and a skull cup in the other. His face and her body are painted with cold gold, there is red pigment in his hair and blue lapis lazuli powder in hers.

15th century, Tibet, Yama and Yami, gilt copper alloy, at the Patan Museum (Nepal).

15th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper alloy, at the Patan Museum (Nepal).

15th century, Tibet, Yama and Yami, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper alloy, photo by Christie’s.

Both previously posted as Yama and Yami by mistake.

15th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper with pigment, turquoise and silver inlay, private collection.

15th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper, iron, silver, pigment, turquoise, private collection.

He is holding a flaming sword and a skull cup. She is holding a vajra and a skull cup and is wearing belt and has an animal skin thrown around her thighs. Their hair has been painted with red pigment.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection.

16th century, gilt copper, cold gold and pigment, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhassa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

16th century, gilt copper, cold gold and pigment, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhassa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Tibet, Vajrabhairava alone

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava Ekavira, at the Beijing Museum.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava Ekavira, at the Beijing Museum.

Although this meditational deity is often paired with his consort, Vajravetali, he can also be depicted in his normal form (9 heads, 34 hands, 16 legs) alone (Vajrabhairava Ekavira).

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava Heruka, copper alloy with silver, turquoise and coral, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava Heruka, copper alloy with silver, turquoise and coral, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

In his Sahaja Heruka form, Vajrabhairava only has one (buffalo) head and stands on a bull rather than on two victims.

Either forms are rare among sculptures.

 

 

Tibet, Vajrabhairava and consort (2)

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava and Vajravetali, hollow cast brass, at the Alain Bordier Foundation.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava and Vajravetali, hollow cast brass, at the Alain Bordier Foundation.

This meditational deity, a form of wrathful Manjushri with 9 heads, 34 hands, 16 legs, holds a skull cup and chopper in his main hands and 32 attributes in the others. He right legs stand on animals and gods, his left legs stand on birds and gods. He is adorned with a garland of freshly severed heads, skull crowns, snakes, a celestial scarf. His consort, Vajravetali, has one face and two hands, she holds a skull cup and chopper and wears a festooned beaded belt. They stand on a Nepalese-style double-lotus base.

17th century, Tibet, bronze and pigment, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

17th century, Tibet, bronze and pigment, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Rearview

Rearview

According to the scriptures, the nine heads may be stacked in three groups of three, or there may be one row of seven heads topped with another two heads. From the rearview of this sculpture, we can see that he has a row of seven heads (6 wrathful ones around a buffalo head) topped with a wrathful head then Manjushri’s head.  The heads all have three eyes and are adorned with a skull crown. The flaming hair is rising from the lower row of heads. There is an elephant hide stretched across the back of the deity.

17th century, Central Tibet, brass and pigment, private collection.

17th century, Central Tibet, brass and pigment, private collection.

Here the faces are painted with cold gold,  facial and other hair are painted with orange pigment, except for Manjushri’s hair which is blue.