Tibet, Vajrabhairava – alone (4)

Often called Yamantaka, Vajrabhairava is a specific form of Yamantaka (the other two are Rakta Yamari and Krishna Yamari seen in recent posts).

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).The ekavira (solitary) form of Vajrabhairava with a row of seven angry heads and a large buffalo head at the centre, topped with another angry head and Manjushri’s, with 34 hands and 16 legs, adorned with the usual wrathful ornaments, holding a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands before his heart.

17th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy and copper repoussé stand, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

He stands with the right legs bent and the left one stretched, trampling on deities and animals.

On this item, cold gold has been applied to the face and orange pigment has been used to dye the hair, eyebrows, beard and moustache, giving him a very wrathful appearance.

Undated, Tibet?, Vajrabhairava, stone, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Rarely seen in sculpture, the one-head, two-hand and two-leg form of Vajrabhairava holds a flaying knife and a skull cup, wears a five-skull crown, a garland of severed heads and the hide of an elephant across his back. He may stand on a prostrate bull, as above. The addition of Manjushri’s head on top of his is unusual.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, black stone, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Alternatively, the heads are stacked in three groups of three, with the buffalo head at the  bottom and Manjushri’s at the top. The artist has used cold gold to highlight the wrathful ornaments and the attributes held by the deity.

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Tibet, Krishna Yamari

11th-12th century, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, bronze (copper alloy) with paint and turquoise, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Krishna Yamari, with a blue-black body on paintings, may have 1 head and 2 or 4 hands, 3 heads and 2, 4, or 6 hands, 4 heads and 4 hands, 6 or 9 heads and 6 hands. According to textual sources, the four-head version has 4 legs. We saw a figure with 4 heads thought to be Krishna Yamari who only had two legs and the fourth head was Manjushri’s. Here, the heads all have the orange hair and third eye associated with wrathful deities. He holds a sword in the upper left hand and a skull cup in the lower right one, the other attributes are probably incomplete.

14th century, Sino-Tibetan, Krishna Yamari, gilt copper alloy with stones and pigment, private collection, photo by Pundoles.

One of the three-head and six-hand form of Black Yamari tramples two demons lying on the back of a prostrated male buffalo and holds a skull cup, a wheel and a lotus flower or bud in his right hand, a flaying knife, a sword and a vajra in the others (sometimes in a different order). This form may be alone (India) or accompanied by his consort (Sakya tradition).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Krishna Yamari, bronze with gilding and paint, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This rare form of Yamari has six heads, six arms and six legs, two of them folded in the vajra position, the other four in the alidha pose typical of wrathful deities. The main hands are crossed over the heart and hold a vajra sceptre and a bell. The other implements appear to be a vajra-hammer, a sword, another vajra or vajra-tipped attribute and possibly a lasso.

 

 

 

Tibet, Vajrabhairava and consort (5)

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, at the Newark Museum (USA).

Sculptures of Vajrabhairava with his consort usually depict him with nine heads, thirty-four hands, sixteen legs.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, bronze (copper alloy) with traces of pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

His right legs are bent and crush Hindu gods and mammals, the right legs are stretched and crush more gods and some birds.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, brass, private collection, photo by Van Ham Kunstauktionen.

Vajravetali has one head, two hands, two legs – one of them around his waist. She holds a flaying knife and a skull cup and wears a bone apron.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, bronze (copper alloy), at the National Gallery in Prague, (Czech Republic).

They wear skull crowns, bone jewellery, he has a garland of fifty freshly severed heads, she has a garland of skulls.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy, at the Dallas Museum of Art (USA).

She always holds a flaying knife and a skull cup, he has the same attributes in his main hands across her back.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with traces of polychromy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).This buffalo-faced aspect of Yamantaka with consort is a meditational deity.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy and pigment, separate base, private collection, photo by Koller.

Here is an example of the nine heads being arranged in three tiers of three heads.

Tibet, Vajrabhairava and consort (4)

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

Vajrabhaira in his nine-head and thirty-four hand form, with his consort, Vajravetali. The heads may be stacked in three lots of three, or arranged in a row of seven plus one plus Manjushri’s head, as above, the main head being always that of a buffalo.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigments and turquoise inlay on a copper alloy pedestal, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

They wear wrathful ornaments, including a garland of fifty severed heads for him and a garland of skulls for her, and tread on gods and animals. He often has an elephant hide stretched across his back.

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

Vajravetali has one head and two hands, in which she hold a flaying knife and a skull cup. She wears a bone apron. Vajrabhairava holds wrathful implements including a skull cup and a flaying knife in his main hands.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt copper alloy with pigments and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Manjushri’s hair is dyed with blue pigment, reserved for peaceful deities, theirs is usually red/orange.

This masterpiece includes a triple gem placed on the stand. Another unusual feature is the delicately engraved lotus petals.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, silver, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

 

 

Tibet, Vajrabhairava – alone (3)

Vajrabhairava is a form of Yamantaka with a buffalo head (or whose main head is that of a buffalo if he has more than one head).

14th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

He may have 1 to 9 heads, 2 to 34 hands, 2 to 16 legs and is one of only four buddhist deities to have an ithyphallic appearance. This Nepalese-style work depicts him with nine heads stacked in three lots of three. First a buffalo head and two angry faces, then three angry faces, finally two angry faces and Manjushri’s head – the only one without a third eye. The hair is pulled in a bunch going upwards and decorated with an effigy of a buddha. There is an implement in each of this 34 hands, the main ones holding a flaying knife and a skull cup before his heart.

This form of Vajrabhairava has sixteen legs.

Vajrabhairava, 15th century, Tibet, Black stone with traces of polychromy; H. 7 in. (17.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving (L.1994.6.6)
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/38476

Traditionally, eight legs are bent and tread on deities and the others are stretched and trample on animals, including birds. According to the Indian tradition, the right legs may tread on 4 deities and 4 mammals, the left  legs on another 4 deities and 4 birds.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, black stone, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The nine heads can be arranged in a circle of seven with the buffalo head at the centre, plus one angry head plus Manjushri’s on top.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, copper alloy, at the Rubin Museum of Art, New York (USA).

Tibet, Rakta Yamari (2)

16th-17th c., Tibet?, Rakta Yamari and consort, gilt c.a., Wellcome collection on eccentricparabola.blogspot

16th-17th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari and consort, gilt copper alloy, from the Wellcome Collection, is or was at the British Museum in London (UK).

Rakta Yamari (red on paintings) in his heruka form. He has one head with three eyes and orange hair, two hands in which he holds a stick tipped with a human head or skull and a skull cup filled with blood, two legs standing on a victim lying over a prostrate bull. He embraces his consort, Vajravetali, who holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. They are adorned with skull crowns and other wrathful ornaments, including a garland of severed heads for him and a garland of skulls for her. He is clad in a tiger skin loin cloth and she usually wears a bone apron.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay and pigment,s private collection, photo by Bonhams.

On the first example they both have black hair (a tradition from the Kathmandu Valley), here they both have orange hair and there is no bull or victim on the circular lotus base.

18th century, Tibet, Rakta Yamari, gilt copper alloy with pigments and turquoise inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources and the Werner Forman Archive.Occasionally, the wrathful male deity has orange hair and his consort has blue hair.

 

 

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.