Western Himalayas, various bodhisattvas

13th century, Western Himalayas, Vajrapani, brass, is or was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Standing on a stepped plinth derived from a Kashmiri design, Vajrapani holds a thunderbolt sceptre horizontally in his right hand, the other is placed on his hip. He wears a dhoti shorter on one side and has large knee caps as in Western Tibet. His eyes are slit horizontally in the style of Himachal Pradesh. The nimbus is incised with flames, the rest of the back plate is plain.

13th-14th century, Western Himalayas, Vajrapani, brass, private collection, on Himalayan Art Resources.

Another mixed-style Vajrapani, with a coiffure very similar to that of an Himachal Pradesh Avalokiteshvara seen in a previous post. He wears a long garland and a short dhoti decorated with a stippled motif between stripes. The  flaming arch is topped with a finial.

12th century circa, Western Himalayas, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The character at the centre of this Pala-style triad is Manjushri, easy to identify through his sword and his blue lotus topped with a manuscript (the Prajnaparamita sutra). His attendants (smaller in size) are Vajrapani, who holds an upright vajra in his right hand and has his left hand against his hip, and, on the other side, Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, who holds a lotus as usual but also a water pot in the Gandharan fashion.

Undated, Kashmir or Western Himalayas, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.



Western Himalayas, various deities

11th century circa, Western Himalayas, Kurukulla, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is a rare example of Kurukulla with three heads and six hands (she normally has one head and 2, 4 or 8 hands), seated on a lotus supported by wrathful characters, dressed in a Kashmiri tunic with a crescent moon lower hem that  offsets her cruciform navel. She wears a Himachal Pradesh-style scarf and a crown with triangular panels typical of Ladakh. She holds a bow and an arrow in her upper hands, a vajra and a noose in the middle ones. Her lower right hand displays the gesture of supreme generosity, the lower right hand may have held a hook o the stem of a lotus.

The arch behind her is engraved with U-shaped flames often seen on back plates attributed to Jammu and Kashmir.

14th century, Himalayan, Yellow Jambhala and consort, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Metal sculptures of Yellow Jambhala with his consort are also rarely seen. The above has three heads and six hands, in his right ones he holds an arrow, a hook (elephant goad) and a citron. On the other side there is another fruit, a (broken) bow and the hand which holds the consort also holds a mongoose disgorging jewels.

Traditionally he has a lasso in one hand instead of two citrons. She holds a small vessel and a ritual pot. His crown and hair band are decorated with incisions typical of Western Tibet.

15th century, Western Himalayas, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

This brassy sculpture depicts the bodhisattva  with Tibetan facial features, floral crown and jewellery, wearing a Chinese-style lower garment and shawl with serpentine ends, seated on a thick cushion over a lotus base with a single row of unusual petals resembling the footprints of a deer, the upper and lower rim without beading. The shape and proportions of the back plate are typical of earlier works from Kashmir, while the cut out foliage on the inner row shows an influence from Nepal. The treatment of the flames is singular.




Western Himalayas, Manjushri

10th-11th century, labelled Himachal Pradesh or Western Tibet or Kashmir, Manjushri, copper alloy, at the Newark Museum.

Seated on a double-lotus base with heart-shaped petals, Manjushri brandishes a sword above his head and holds a lotus at heart level in his other hand. He  wears  a small tiara with rosettes and bows, large floral earrings, beaded accessories and a celestial scarf.

The back of the work is as interesting as the front. His hair is pleated into three long strands fastened together at the top, a hairstyle proper to this bodhisattva. He wears a long striped dhoti (often seen on Indian works) and a sacred thread. His celestial scarf is thin and pleated except for the ends which open up like flowers (in the Himachal Pradesh fashion)

10th-11th century, labelled Kashmir or Western Tibet or Himachal Pradesh, copper alloy, same as before.

The same figure, seated on a large lotus with ‘artichoke leaves’ (Kashmir and Swat Valley influence), holding a flaming sword incised with a large circular motif in the Ngari (Western Tibet) style, wearing the same style of scarf, a long striped dhoti, a crown with three triangular panels (associated with Ladakh and Western Tibet), his  left hand holding the stem of a blue lotus (utpala).

11th century, labelled Kashmir style in Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This  mixed styles figure has silver-inlaid eyes and urna, copper-inlaid lips and nipples.

The body proportions, the ‘strangled’ double lotus base and the back plate are associated with Kashmiri art but the punched navel is typical of Indian works while the crown and the colour of copper alloy look Tibetan .

His sword is tipped with a vajra.

Western Himalayas, various buddhas

It is sometimes impossible to know in which part of the Himalayas a given metal sculpture was made because it includes features from different areas and because a given style from a particular area was sometimes imitated by artists from another area. ‘Western Himalayas’ generally refers to Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and other parts of Northern India close to Tibet, and parts of Pakistán.

9th-10th century, Western Himalayas, Kashmir style, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This rare piece depicts the historical buddha with his right hand in the gesture of generosity and the other holding a piece of his robe, a devotee (possibly the donor) at his feet. The shape of the face and hair and the addition of a devotee on the base correspond to the Kashmiri tradition but not so the dark alloy with silver inlaid-eyes (normally associated with Pakistan/The Swat Valley) or the broad hips and the folds of the robe.

10th-11th century, Western Himalayas, Kashmiri style, Vajrasattva, brass, at the Newark Museum (USA).

Standing on a Kashmiri-style pedestal complete with flaming mandorla, Vajrasattva holds his thunderbolt sceptre in the right hand and the bell in the other, against his hip. His hair is tied in fan-shaped bunch in the Pakistani manner while his pleated celestial scarf with broad ends recalls works from Himachal Pradesh. We saw a similar dhoti and belt on a 10th-11th century brass sculpture from Kashmir, yet the figure lacks the characteristics associated with that region, such as developed pectorals, muscly legs and harmonious body proportions.

10th-11th century, Western Himalayas, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is another rare and interesting image of Shakyamuni, dressed in a transparent robe, his right hand doing the fear-allaying gesture, standing on lotus over a plain plinth.

His hair locks are engraved rather than raised, and the hem of his robe is decorated with an embossed rather than an incised pattern. There are traces of cold gold on the face.

11th century, Northern India or Western Tibet, Shakyamuni, metal (copper or copper alloy), at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

On the whole this masterpiece displays Kashmiri features such as the shape of the face, the body proportions, the folds of the robe. However, the heavy eyelids, the fancy collar and the chignon are not typical of that region.

Avalokiteshvara – Padmapani, two mixed styles

11th century, possibly Himachal Pradesh, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, at the Rubin Museum of Art.

11th century, Himachal Pradesh or Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, Padmapani, at the Rubin Museum of Art.

Avalokiteshvara is identified thanks to the large effigy of Amitabha at the front of his crown, the antelope skin over his left shoulder and the lotus flower he holds (which signals his padmapani or ‘lotus-bearer’ form). The single-lotus base and plinth on which he stands and the flat wavy celestial scarf are similar to 10th-11th century Himachal Pradesh sculptures published in previous posts. His tubular legs with prominent knee caps and his tall crown are reminiscent of a giant sculpture of Maitreya carved into the rock in the Chamba region and thought to date from the 7th or 8th century. He has a muscly Kashmiri-style torso, adorned with a necklace. His short dhoti, richly incised with stripes and lotus flowers, is slightly longer on one side, in the West Tibetan fashion. He has a prominent urna and very thin eyebrows over is elongated eyes.

11th c., Himachal Pradesh?, Padmapani, lotus

His lotus-flower earrings match the lotus flowers on each side of his crown (usually described as rosettes). The singular flaming mandorla behind him, topped with another (larger) lotus, appears to be a mixture of the Indian and the Kashmiri shapes.

14th century, Tibet?, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, brass, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, Padmapani, brass and pigment, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

Chepu in crown

Apart from an effigy of Amitabha in his crown, an antelope skin over his shoulders and a lotus flower in his left hand, this figure has Kirtimukkha in his crown, something proper to Tibet and Nepal, where it is known as Chepu. The muscly Kashmir-style torso, the engraved dhoti shorter on one side, the garland of flowers, correspond to Western Tibet.

14th c., Tibet, Padmapani, metal+pig., face, Rubin

The use of red pigment was common in the Khasa Malla kingdom in Western Nepal/Western Tibet. The facial features and large hoops recall Nepalese sculptures of the same Malla period but the eyes are inlaid with silver, in the Kashmiri fashion.


Western Himalayas, two sculptures

11th-12th century, Western Tibet or Ladakh, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani (antelope skin over shoulder, his lotus is broken), copper alloy, 12 cm, private collection

13th century, Western Himalayas (Western Tibet/Himachal Pradesh), Vajrapani, brass, at LACMA