Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – standing (17)

11th or 12th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – Padmapani, brass, private collection, photo by on jstor  

Avalokiteshvara in his ‘lotus bearer’ form, with an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and an antelope skin on his left shoulder, dressed in a richly incised dhoti and adorned with a crown made of three triangular leaves, princely jewellery and a foliate garland typical of early Guge-style works.

Circa 13th century, Western Tibet, Guge, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, 1997.

Another type of crown is the tall Kashmiri-style crown, made of crescent-shaped lotus shoots supporting a floral or foliate ornament.  (see “COMPARING WORKS” > The Early Guge style and related works in the left margin of this blog).

12th century, Tibet, Lokeshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt , 23rd November 2019.

This padmapani with a thin waist and disproportionate torso holds two open lotuses in his left hand. He is adorned with Nepalese-style serpentine armbands and a sash knotted on the left, no antelope skin or buddha effigy.

12th century, Tibet, Lokeshvara, bronze with silver eyes, private collection, photo by Hardt as before, close up here.

A completely different style, reminiscent of early dwarf attendant figures leaning towards the deity they accompany. His left hand does a gesture to bestow patience, normally associated with a rosary, the right hand is not doing any particular gesture, which is unusual. The effigy of Amitabha at the front of his tall crown identifies him as Avalokiteshvara/Lokeshvara.

16th-17th century, Tibet , (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Arts d’Asie 11th June 2009 lot 271, Paris.

16th-17th century, Tibet , (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Arts d’Asie 11th June 2009 lot 271, Paris.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, polychrome wood, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s  .

Pala India, a few yaksha figures (2)

11th-12th century, India, Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Arts d’Asie 10th June 2015, lot 168.

Yellow Jambhala is seated with his right leg pendent, the foot placed on a vase filled with jewels, on a  lotus base decorated with unusually thick beading and four groups of three jewels below the lotus seat. As usual he holds a gem-shaped citron in his right hand and a mongoose in the other, and wears a tight-fitting lower garment, a scarf, princely jewellery and a lotus bud knop. 

11th-12th century, Eastern India, Jambhala, stone, private collection, photo by Koller, sale A191AS lot 376.

The same form of Jambhala, seated on a large pot with a lid, atop a lotus seat with scrolling vines and buds below. He grips a small fruit with his right hand while holding a mongoose that disgorges pearls. There are two celestial beings (apsaras) at the top.

12th century, Northeast India, Kubera, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Bonhams, Hong Kong (classified as Yellow Jambhala on HAR).

A very rare and interesting image of a wealth deity with a friendly yaksha appearance, holding a gem-shaped citron in his right hand like Yellow Jambhala, but with an ingot in his left hand (instead of a mongoose). According to textual sources, Kubera may hold a mace, a mongoose or a horn to hold coins in his left hand, and a hook, a pomegranate, a money bag or a mace in his right hand.

Tibet, Samvara – various forms (7)

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Samvara with consort, silver (with cold gold and pigments), private collection, photo on Christie’s

Almost identical to a 15th-16th century silver sculpture seen here , this work depicts a rare form of Samvara with one head and four arms, the main hands holding a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell while embracing the consort, the upper hands holding a drum and a ritual staff. Following the Luipa tradition, Vajrayogini has both legs around his waist.

18th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara with Vajrayogini, silver with copper inlay and parcel-gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

Samvara in his sahara heruka form, in embrace with Vajrayogini/Vajravarahi (who holds a skull cup and a flaying knife), his hair tied in a top knot and decorated with a half vajra finial, a crescent moon (on the side) and a visvajra (at the front), holding his main attributes in his hands crossed over her back, treading on two victims.

18th century, Tibet, Samvara and consort, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Arts d’Asie 11th June 2009 lot 265, Paris.

The same form without its pedestal. They are adorned with a skull crown and bone ornaments, he wears a garland of freshly severed heads and a tiger skin loin cloth, she wears a garland of skulls and a bone apron.

11th century, Tibet or India (Kashmir?), Chakrasamvara, copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo and close up on Rossi & Rossi .

A rare work depicting Samvara with 4 heads, each adorned with a large five-skull crown, and twelve arms, in embrace with the consort (Chakrasamvara refers to the two together), his main hands holding the same attributes as before, the upper ones supporting the hide of an elephant above their head – a feature we saw on a 9th century Kashmiri work. The remaining right hands hold a stick, a drum, an axe, the broken one would have held a flaying knife. The remaining left hands hold a noose, a skull cup, Brahma’s head with four faces, a ritual staff. The two victims under their feet are Bhairava and Kalaratri, who embody ego and ignorance.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara (labelled ‘sculpture of Yab-Yum’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Artemis (no front view available).

Most  Tibetan sculptures have the elephant hide at the back.

15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Rossi & Rossi

Here the elephant skin, of which only the front paws remain, is placed lower down, and the attributes in the remaining secondary hands are in a different order.

Circa 17th century, Tibet or Nepal, Chakrasamvara, zitan wood (red sandalwood) with pigment, private collection, photo by Nagel, Sale 100 China 2.

18th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Skinner Inc., sale 2528b.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

We hardly ever come across Chakrasamvara with four heads and six arms. The upper hands hold the hide of an elephant, the lower ones hold a drum and a skull cup, the main ones are as usual.

Tibet, various female deities (7)

11th or 12th century, Western Tibet, Prajnaparamita, bronze (brass), private collection, photo on Concept Art

One of a group of early brass sculptures from Western Tibet depicting the four-arm form of the goddess of transcendent wisdom, mother of all  buddhas, with her lower right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity, the left one cupped as if to hold a bowl, the upper hands clutching a (missing) rosary and a manuscript. On this occasion there is a broad sash across her breast instead of a sacred cord.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vishvamata? (labelled ‘Tara’), gilt bronze with turquoise inlay and pigment, private collection, photo on Bonhams, Hong Kong .

The iconography is, at first sight, the same as for White Tara but she has a rectangular urna, not a third eye, on her forehead and there are no eyes incised or embossed in the palm of her hands, which points to Kalachakra’s consort, Vishvamata, who may be depicted alone.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Sarasvati, polychrome wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s here .

The goddess of the arts and speech, of Hindu origin, in her one-head and two-arm form, seated with her legs crossed and playing the vina.

16th century, Tibet, Marici, gilt copper (alloy) and turquoise, private collection, photo on origineexpert

In Tibetan art Marici/Marichi in her one-head and two-arm form normally holds a needle and thread. This figure holds a vase in her right hand and the stem of a lotus that supports a disc in the other.

15th century, Tibet, goddess, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, London, 12th July 2006.

A four-headed (Buddhist?) female figure with eight arms, holding fly whisks in every hand.

Kashmir, various buddhas (3)

8th century, Kashmir, Buddha with Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya, chlorite, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s , Arts d’Asie 2012.

The historical buddha, preaching, is flanked by Maitreya to his right, holding a water pot in his left hand, and Avalokiteshvara to his left, holding a long-stemmed lotus, both bodhisattvas standing on a small lotus stemming from the main stalk supporting Shakyamuni’s cushion. Each character has a nimbus with a beaded edge.

9th-10th century, Kashmir or Central Asia, Vairocana and Eight Bodhisattvas, wood with traces of polychromy, at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City (USA) (which labels it ‘Chinese, Tang Dynasty’), photo here for Buddhist Art of Kashmir and its legacies at The Rubin Museum of Art.

A portable shrine with Vairocana surrounded by bodhisattvas, two apsaras holding a canopy above his head, a kneeling monk below his throne, wrathful and peaceful characters on the side panels.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir or Kashmir school in Western Tibet, bronze with stone inlay, is or was at Cherné Monastery, photo by  Dr Chiara Bellini  .

A Kashmiri-style buddha with unusual features, such as the broad face with a stone-inlaid urna, the semi-closed eyes without silver inlay, the lacy edge of his robe covering his right shoulder.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Bhaisajyaguru, copper with silver eyes, is or was at the Triksé monastery in Ladakh, photo by Chiara Bellini as before.

The main buddha of medicine displays an arura fruit in the palm of his right hand while the other is cupped to support a bowl or a medicine jar, now lost. This sculpture has similarities with various works seen before and attributed to Ladakh: the facial features, especially the thin unibrow with no urna above, the long strip of cloth with pointed edges over the left shoulder and down to the breast, the piece of robe covering the right shoulder, the hem incised with a rice grain pattern,  the shape of the stepped throne and the position of the lions that support it. Outside Nepal, the use of pure copper is unusual.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, copper, at the museum of Triksé monastery in Ladakh, photo by Chiara Bellini as above.

Pala India, Shakyamuni (4)

9th-10th c., Northeast India, Shakyamuni, brass, is or was at the Lima Lakhang in Lhasa (Tibet), published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The historical buddha is seated on a Nalanda-style double-lotus atop a throne covered with a cloth and decorated with viyalas and stupas, topped with a parasol. The nimbus behind the buddha’s head is embossed with a bodhi tree, under which he gained enlightenment.

10th-11th century, Northeast India, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo by Millon.

A Kurkihar-style buddha, standing, holding a piece of his garment in his left hand and showing the palm of his right hand in a gesture of supreme generosity. He is adorned with a tripartite crown, a necklace and earrings.

11th century, Northeast India, Kurkihar, Shakyamuni, bronze, photo on Artkhade .

Crowned and seated, his right hand calling Earth to witness his enlightenment.

11th-12th century, India (labelled ‘Pala’), Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo on Sanjay Kapoor Inc.    

We have come across a few similar brass sculptures with silver-inlaid eyes of the historical buddha seated on a lotus base. The above has a small vajra sceptre before him. The hem of his sanghati is decorated with a chased geometrical pattern.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Shakyamuni at Bodhgaya, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo by Björn Arvidsson for the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

Shakyamuni is seated on an embroidered cushion with Kirtimukha at the front, atop a throne supported by two erect snow lions, the goddess of Earth, a male figure, two elephants and a central figure seated at ease on the back of an animal. 

See also the page “Bodh Gaya-type seated buddhas” in the left-hand margin of this blog.

Kashmir, various bodhisattvas (6)

10th-11th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, possibly silver, Stok Palace Museum in Leh (ancient Tibetan kingdom of Ladakh, presently India), published by Chiara Bellini on academia.edu.

Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, which in Himalayan art usually includes an antelope skin over his left shoulder and an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, as above. He stands on a single lotus, his right hand in the gesture to dispel fear, the other holding his main attribute. The backplate with a nimbus filled with a large flower is possibly from Himachal Pradesh. His sharp facial features, with semi-closed slanted eyes, V-shaped mouth and high cheekbones, and his very showy headdress are quite different from standard Kashmiri sculptures (see below).

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, brass with cold gold, is or was at the Chemre monastery in Ladakh, photo by Michael Henss, 1980.

Undated (circa 11th century), Kashmir (labelled ‘India’), Manjushri, Arapachana, brass with silver eyes, photo on HAR

Seated on a double-lotus base with large ‘artichoke’ leaves proper to Kashmir and Swat Valley art, his legs not quite locked, Manjushri in his arapachana form brandishes a flaming sword and holds a manuscript vertically before his heart.

Circa 10th century, Kashmir, Maitreya, brass, at the Rietberg Museum in Zürich (Switzerland), photo by Pratapaditya Pal, 1975.

Maitreya as the future buddha, seated with both legs pendents atop a throne supported by recumbent lions, his hands ‘turning the wheel of the law’, the flaming arch behind him topped with streamers.