Tibet, unidentified bodhisattvas (3)

11th century, Central Tibet, bodhisattva, at the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This bodhisattva does the gesture to hold flowers (kataka mudra) with both hands. He wears an early Nepalese-style foliate crown and a broad sash across the chest.

12th-13th century, Tibet, bodhisattva, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In the absence of any specific attribute, the lotuses on each side of this character are not enough to identify him.

14th century, Central Tibet, bodhisattva, brass, Densatil style, at the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The above has his left hand cupped (gesture of meditation) and does the teaching gesture with the other, holding a pearl or gem between the thumb and forefinger.



Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani – standing (5)

Labelled 12th-14th century, Western Himalayas (circa 11th century, Western Tibet or Ladakh?), Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, published on wikipedia commons.

This Guge-style sculpture with an athletic body, marked knee caps, a lobed abdomen and a cruciform navel, is very similar to a 1oth-11th century Avalokiteshvara attributed to Western Tibet or Ladakh by the Musée Guimet in Paris and published in a previous post (see below). Vajrapani holds an upright vajra in his right hand and may have had a bell in the other. He is adorned with a long foliate garland, beaded jewellery, sacred thread and matching belt, large floral earrings and a sash worn tightly across the chest. Long strands of hair dyed with blue pigment fall over his shoulders. His transparent dhoti, shorter on one side and with an incised hem, forms a sharp point at the front that almost reaches the pedestal. The eyes are inlaid with silver in the Kashmiri fashion.

10th-11th century, Western Tibet or ancient Tibetan kingdom of Ladakh, Avalokiteshvara, brass with silver inlay, at Musée Guimet (Paris)

Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani – standing (4)

11rh-12th century, Western Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Koller.

Possibly part of a set, this solid-cast figure has the bonhomie of many 11th and 12th century West Tibetan sculptures vaguely inspired by the Indian Pala style. The hair is gathered in a three-tier chignon topped with a lotus bud finial, his low tiara with a single leaf panel is fastened with ribbons forming large bows on each side of the head. He holds an upright vajra in his right hand and a vajra-handled bell in the other at hip level. His knee-length garment, knotted at the back, is decorated with a stippled motif and thick beading on the hem.

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Capriaquar on http://www.asianart.com.

Occasionally, this bodhisattva holds the stem of a lotus which supports the attribute and does a symbolic gesture with the other hand.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, by Chöying Dorje, copper with cold gold and pigments, is or was at Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The tenth karmapa portrayed, in his own particular style, a dishevelled Vajrapani standing on  twisted nagas (snakes) over a lotus on a rocky formation supported by two crouching figures.

Tibet, standing Maitreya (5)

Circa 11th century, Western Tibet, Maitreya, (labelled Manjushri), copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Maitreya is identified by the stupa in his headdress and the water pot in his left hand. He stands on a Kashmiri-style base, complete with its flaming mandorla, but several characteristics proper to Western Tibet, such as the stippled lotus motif on his dhoti, worn much longer on one side, the thick floral garland that reaches his ankles and the style of his jewellery, indicate that the piece was not made by a Kashmiri artist, who would have given him a cruciform navel instead of punched hole.

18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, polychrome wood, modern base, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Tibet, Manjushri with sword (5)

11th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.asianartresource.com

The bodhisattva of wisdom brandishes a vajra-tipped sword in one hand and holds the stem of a blue lotus topped with a manuscript in the other. He wears a Ladakhi-style tripartite crown and a long celestial scarf, large floral earrings, beaded jewellery, belt and sacred cord. His dhoti, much shorter on one side, is decorated with an incised geometrical pattern. A large turquoise stone marks the urna on his forehead. He displays Kashmiri features such as the marked pectorals and the cruciform navel.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Manjushri, bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A Pala-style version of the same deity, wearing a knee-length garment decorated with a stippled floral motif.

Undated, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This is an example of the  ‘Pala-revival’ style in Tibet, of which there 2 main phases (14th-15th century and 17th-18th century).


The sword is broken but the lotus supporting a book topped with a pearl identify Manjushri beyond doubt.

Late 15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Newar artists from the Kathmandu valley brought with them to Tibet the custom of gilding the sculpture and decorating it with small cabochons. This item also displays Chinese features such as the ample draping of the dhoti and the shawl over the shoulders with loops at elbow level.


Kashmir, two rare sculptures (2)

10th–11th century, Kashmir, Vighnantaka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Depicted as an attendant in early Indian art, Vighnantaka would typically have 1 head with three eyes, 2, or 4 hands, 2 legs treading on the elephant-headed Ganapati. The above is portrayed as a main deity, seated on Ganapati, himself on the back of a prostrated snow lion, all three on a lotus base with a kneeling figure on each side, over a stepped plinth decorated with vases and lotuses.

He has eight hands in which he holds various attributes including an axe and a bell, a sword and a lasso, a vajra and a staff made with a limb.


There is an effigy of an emaciated buddha at the top of the halo.

11th century, Kashmir, unknown deity, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This unidentified deity holds a vajra-tipped sword and a shield, an attribute normally associated with Kalachakra. The column to his left and the wrenched base indicate that this was part of a larger composition and that this is an attendant to a main deity. Bonhams suggest that this may be Vighnantaka due to a ressemblance with a sculpture at the Potala, A third eye and the presence of Ganapati would have helped confirm this. Vighnantaka’s usual attributes are a vajra and a lasso.

Kashmir, various bodhisattvas

10th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, bronze with silver inlay, at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City (USA).

Avalokiteshvara, in his padmapani form, has traces of cold gold on his face and blue pigment in his hair, indicating that the image was worshipped in Tibet. The image displays various elements which differ from Kashmiri standards, such as the absence of marked pectorals, a very thin waist, a sash across his chest, a broader and shorter halo.

The deity has an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

11th century, Kashmir, possibly Manjushri in his Kumara form, brass with silver and copper inlay, published by Dr Ajay Kumar Singh.

This bodhisattva has four hands in which he holds a trident, a lotus topped with a book and a water pot, the remaining one does the gesture of supreme generosity. He is adorned with a tripartite crown, jewellery and a celestial scarf with fluttering ends shaped like flowers.

11th-13th century, Kashmir, Amoghapasha, bronze with silver inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Amoghapasha, in his one-head and six-hand form, stands on a lotus with thick petals shaped like hooves, a two-piece flaming mandorla behind him, a foliate garland around his neck.

One of his right hands does the gesture of generosity, the others hold a vajra and a vajra-handled hammer. One of his left hands is placed on his hip, the others hold a bell and a noose – his distinctive attribute  (pasha). His eyes are inlaid with silver. His cruciform navel and lobed abdomen are typical of Kahmiri metal sculptures but one would expect marked pectorals and nipples. His facial features, with wide-open eyes and generous lips, are reminiscent of Tibetan art.