Swat Valley, various bodhisattvas (2)

Undated, Pakistan, Swat Valley style, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Vajrapani holds a thunderbolt sceptre horizontally away from his chest while his left hand rests against his hip. He displays a fan-shape hair bunch typical of the area now known as Pakistan but worn looser, two different earrings and plain jewellery.

His long dhoti decorated with geometrical incisions, covering the navel and fastened at the back differs from Swat Valley standards, as do the body proportions (less harmonious here). The use of a dark alloy, the ‘strangled’ lotus base without a plinth and the shape of the face correspond to the Swat Valley style.

Undated (9th or 10th century?), Swat Valley, bodhisattva, bronze, private collection, same as before.

Seated on a cushion over rocky formation, this bodhisattva holds a water pot in his left hand and a non-identified object in the other. In the absence of a stupa in his headdress it is impossible to know whether this is Maitreya or Avalokiteshvara.

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.

Ladakh, standing Avalokiteshvara (2)

11th century circa, Ladakh, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel Auctions.

This elegant bodhisattva displays a few elements borrowed from Pala Indian art such as the treatment of the eyes, the swerving torso, festooned belt, low crown, two different earrings and small turquoise cabochons.

Other features such as the tall and very thin chignon, the oversized nipples and the incised decorations are common to works attributed to the ancient Tibetan kingdom of Ladakh and to Western Tibet. The above wears an antelope skin over his left shoulder and the legs are fastened (rather than knotted) across his chest.

The dhoti is shorter on one side and richly engraved with geometrical motifs.

12th century, Ladakh, Avalokiteshvara, same as before.

We saw a very similar figure dated 11th-12th century in a previous post. This one wears the sash much lower down and the other way round and his low tripartite crown is decorated with rosettes instead of bows. His dhoti is decorated with a large stippled lotus pattern, the knee caps are marked with deep incisions, part of his accessories include engraved beading.





Pala India, Vajrapani (2)

11th century, Northeast India, Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Peaceful Vajrapani stands on a small lotus base over a tortoise pedestal engraved with a foliate motif, surrounded by a halo of serrated flames and framed by tall lotuses – one of which supports a vajra-handled bell (ghanta). He holds his other attribute, the vajra, upright at heart level. Gilt sculptures are not typical of Pala  art The cold gold and pigments on the face and hair suggest that the statue was worshipped in Tibet at some stage.

11th century, Northeast India, Vajrapani, metal, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The stiff pose, the large central panel on the crown, the squarish face, the brassy metal and the treatment of the face recall works attributed to various western regions of the ancient Tibetan kingdom. Vajrapani holds both attributes in his hands while the lotuses form part of the back plate. Flames are engraved around the mandorla and the tortoise pedestal is decorated with incised geometrical motifs and two elephants at the front.

12th century, India, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This figure displays typical Pala elements such as the tiered conical chignon, the swerving torso and the small lotus pedestal, but also West Tibetan elements such as the dhoti shorter on one side, the sash sticking out rigidly at calf level, the morphological disproportion and the way the vajra is fastened to the hand.

Pala India, Jambhala (2)

11th century, India, Bangladesh, Jambhala, bronze, at the Free Sackler Gallery in Washington DC (USA).

This is the peaceful aspect of Jambhala, known as Yellow Jambhala because his skin is yellow on paintings. The pot-bellied deity sits with his legs loosely folded and holds a mongoose to the left and a citron in his right palm held out in the gesture of generosity.

11th century, India, Jambhala, black stone, private collection, published by Xanadu gallery on http://www.asianart.com

His mongoose disgorges pearls or gems and his right foot often rests on a pot filled with gems. The above sits on a lotus base supported by a row of such containers. His tiara is very discreet in order to offset the tall conical headdress. Pala stone works often display great beauty in the face and harmonious body volumes. This is no exception.

12th century, Eastern India or Tibet, Jambhala, bronze with pigments, private collection, published on http://www.pindoles.com