Western Himalayas, various bodhisattvas (2)

Circa 11th century, Western Himalayas? (labelled ‘Kashmir’), Avalokiteshvara, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips, cold gold, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 105 China 1.

A mixed-style statue of Avalokiteshvara, lotus in hand, an antelope skin over his left shoulder and the effigy of Amitabha at the front of his crown. He has the well-developed torso typical of Kashmiri works but not the characteristic cruciform navel. Other noteworthy features are the Ladakhi-style earrings and crown, the scallop-shape hair bunch and the way his celestial scarf flows upwards on one side and downwards on the other (something we saw once on a 9th-10th century brass sculpture from Kashmir). His right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity.

Unlabelled (Western Himalayas?), Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection), photo on Himalayan Art Resources

A fairly similar image with Kashmiri-style body proportions, athletic torso and cruciform navel. The wide-open eyes and square urna (both inlaid with silver), squarish jaw, strong chin and chubby cheeks depart from Kashmiri standards. He wears a long Indian-style stripy dhoti with a stippled motif, a beaded sacred cord and matching belt. He holds a rosary in his right hand.

Circa 10th-11th century, Western Himalayas, Manjushri (labelled ‘Padmapani’), bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, auction 101 China 1.

This character, who stands in an awkward position, holds a blue lotus topped with a manuscript, which identifies him as Manjushri. He has a very large raised urna on his forehead and matching nipples and is adorned with a single foliate hair ornament, a foliate garland and a belt with a chased geometrical motif, no jewellery.


Tibet, Avalokiteshara – standing (16)

A new page called “The Guge style and related works” has been published as a subsection of the “Comparing Works” page, in the left hand side of this blog, including the first image in this post.

11th-12th century, Western Tibet, Guge, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo on Hardt

The metal sculptures made by Kashmiri artists for the Guge kingdom during the 11th and 12th century display the usual athletic chest, narrow waist, cruciform navel, silver-inlaid eyes so characteristic of Kashmiri art, combined with a series of unique features…

such as the large and full face with small fleshy lips and a marked chin, the garland of flowers …

… the richly and deeply incised dhoti, shorter on one side, the prominent knee caps. The above has an effigy of Amitabha at the front of his crown, an antelope skin over his left shoulder, a long-stemmed lotus in his left hand, no armlets. His right hand does the fear-allaying gesture.

12th century, Tibet, (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt

Avalokiteshvara with the right hand doing the gesture of supreme generosity

12th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt

With his left hand doing a gesture to bestow refuge.

12th-13th century, Tibet, (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, bronze, private collection, photo by Koller.

This brass sculpture, probably made in Western Tibet, depicts him with a small water pot in his right hand and an effigy of Amitabha at the base of his chignon.

13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt

The treatment of the eyes on this dark bronze is reminiscent of Swat Valley works, and so is the fan-shaped hairstyle.

13th century, Tibet or Ladakh, Avalokiteshvara, bronze on a modern base, private collection, photo by Michael Backman

This one, on the other hand, is very similar to an 11th-12th century padmapani attributed to Ladakh by Koller seen here

17th-18th century, Tibet, (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, gilt bronze, photo on VAN HAM.

The design of the lotus in Avalokiteshvara’s left hand, the shape of his body and the colour of the gilding are the same as on various early Nepalese sculptures seen in previous posts.

18th century, Tibet, (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Hardt

This figure with a doll-like body has a large Kirtimukha on the front of his crown, just like a silver Maitreya seen here


Tibet, Manjushri – various forms (5)

Regarding the first item below, see the new page (left-hand column of this blog) on the Ngari style and related works attributed to Western Tibet ateliers.

13th century, Tibet, Manjushri, brass, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum, Mumbai (India), photo on Photo Dharma

White Manjushri, standing, holding the stem of a blue lotus (utpala) that supports the Prajnaparamita manuscript, his right hand held palm out to express generosity.

13th century, Tibet, Manjushri, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt

Instead, he may have both hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Koller, sale W249AS.

From the 13th century onwards White Manjushri is often depicted with the hilt of a sword emerging from another lotus, to his right. In such case, he is usually seated and his hands do the dharmacakra gesture.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 3.

A singular sculpture of him seated at ease and  leaning on his right arm, the right hand holding the stem of a blue lotus that supports the hilt of a sword, the left hand holding a book at heart level.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with gems and pigment, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Vadisimha Manjushri, seated on a lion  with his legs locked, the hands turning the wheel of dharma, the lotuses that hold the hilt of a sword and a book fastened to his elbows.

11th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, bronze, Indian artist commissioned by the Guge kingdom, photo by T. Pritzker, published by Ulrich von Schroeder in 108 Buddhist Statues in Tibet.

An early example of Manjushri standing and wielding a sword, holding the stem of a lotus in his left hand that may or may not have supported a book.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Both the arapachana and the sthiracakra forms of Manjushri sit in the vajra position, brandishing a sword in the right hand and holding a book in the other, close to the heart. No lotus. On paintings, the former is white and the latter is orange (saffron).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A more common form, wielding a sword and holding a lotus that supports the manuscript.

13th century, Tibet, Manjuvajra, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A figure with three heads and six hands, the main ones crossed over his heart palm inwards (no vajra sceptre or vajra bell visible), the upper ones holding a sword and a lotus, the middle ones holding a vajra sceptre and visvajra – not associated with Manjuvajra, who normally has a  bow and an arrow in two of his hands. He wears a helmet, princely jewellery, a scarf and long lower garment decorated with an incised motif, plus a plain one on top that stops at knee level.

15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt metal with turquoise inlay, Sonam Gyaltsen and atelier, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

Manjuvajra Manjushri with one head and four hands, the lower ones would have held a bow and an arrow, the others hold a blue lotus and a (missing) book.

Tibet, Akshobhya (3)

11th-12th century, Tibet, Askhobhya, bronze (copper alloy) with traces of gold, private collection, photo on Nagel

A rare and early sculpture of Akshobhya in his bodhisattva appearance, seated on a lotus supported by an elephant throne, his hair tied in a Swat-Valley style fan-shaped bunch, adorned with simple jewellery and a tiara with a single ornament at the front. His right hand calls Earth to witness, the other is in the meditation gesture and would have held an upright vajra now missing.

13th-14th century, Tibet or Ladakh, Akshobya (labelled ‘Vajrapani’), bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Eleanor Abraham

Complete with vajra sceptre in hand, coiffed with a tall crown with a kirtimukha design at the centre, his chignon topped with a half vajra finial.

Circa 15th century, Western Tibet, Akshobhya (labelled ‘crowned Buddha’), copper alloy with meal and stone inlay, cold gold, private collection, photo by Koller.

A singular example wearing a long dhoti richly incised and inlaid with copper, a matching omega-shape celestial scarf forming an arch around him, adorned with a five-leaf crown, large hoops,  bulky bracelets, armlets, anklets and necklaces, all inlaid with medium to large cabochons.

Circa 15th-16th century, Tibet, Akshobhya (labelled ‘Buddha’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by F. Gousset for aaoarts

A curious image of Akshobhya without necklaces, bracelets, anklets or a belt, only a crown, earrings and armlets. The sash across his chest is knotted over the left shoulder. He probably held an upright vajra sceptre in his cupped hand.

17th century, Tibet, Askhbhya, copper alloy (labelled ‘wood’), private collection, photo on Artkhade

In his buddha appearance, seated on a brocaded cushion, atop a throne supported by two lions, two elephants and two kneeling figures.

Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – seated (7)

11th-12th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

We saw a Nepalese Vajrabodhisattva (see here ) on a similar lotus base wearing a lower garment with a broad hem deeply incised with a geometrical pattern like this one. On this example the design has also been used for the sash across his chest. He has an effigy of Amitabha at the front of his crown.

12th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, sale N10033.

Almost encased in his celestial scarf, the flame of enlightened knowledge rising from his chignon, the bodhisattva holds a vase in his left hand and a jewel in the other, at heart level.

12th-13th century, Tibet or Nepal, Lokeshvara, bronze (copper alloy) with traces of gold, private collection, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for Cornette de St Cyr on aaoarts

The fly whisk in his right hand is normally associated with the six-arm form of Avalokiteshvara. The hole in his head suggests there was an effigy of Amitabha at the front of his elaborate coiffure, which recalls the Indian Khasarpana Lokeshvara form but without the cascade of curls on each side. See below for comparison.

13th century, Tibet, Khasarpani Lokeshvara, photo by Sotheby’s (dated 17th-18th century by Christie’s 2019.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), gilt copper alloy with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.


We saw some Nepalese sculptures of peaceful Vajrapani gently patting on the head an infant-looking creature who has the tip of a vajra finial on his head and stands with his arms crossed over his chest. Described as [the embodiment of] a vajra sceptre by the Cleveland museum and labelled Vajra Anucha at LACMA and in the Huntington archive, he is mentioned in a 9th century Nepalese text as emerging from the soles of Vajrapani’s feet, in a circle of flames and with a wrathful appearance, to stand by him and assist him in his mission to convert non-believers to the Buddhist faith.

Circa 1000 AD, Nepal, Personified Thunderbolt (Vajra Purusha), copper alloy with traces of paint, at the Los Angeles County Museum (USA)

Stone sculptures of a similar character, known as Vajrapurusha/Vajra Purusha in the Hindu religion, were found in early Buddhist and Hindu shrines in India. He was revered as an independent entity in Nepal during the Licchavi and the Transitional Period (5th-12th century). The above example has three vajra prongs emerging from his round cap and wears a tiger skin loincloth held in place with a knotted cobra snake. He is adorned with snakes, a sash and what looks like a wing-like scarf (unfortunately there is no explanation about that at LACMA).

10th century, Nepal, Vajrapurusha, stone, was sadly stolen from the Tah-Bahal in Patan (Nepal), photo by Lain S. Bangdel on Stolen Images of Nepal

On this image he has a celestial scarf floating behind his shoulders and part of his head.

10th century, Nepal, Vajrapurusha, gilt copper alloy, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Here the scarf forms an omega-shaped nimbus, and there is a flaming halo fastened to his shoulders. No doubt this unusual accessory is linked to Indra’s nature (Lord of the highest heavenly realm in Buddhism) and maybe to his other attribute, the rainbow.

14th century, Tibet or Nepal, Anthropomorphized Vajra, private collection, photo on Christie’s.

This extremely rare sculpture depicts a vajra with three heads, six hands, two legs. Clad in a tiger skin loin cloth and adorned with a garland of skulls, he holds an axe and a lasso in the lower ones, a dagger and possibly a lasso (now missing) in the middle ones, a triple gem (triratna) and a lasso in the upper ones (see close up on above link). The heads are crowned with a row of skulls topped with a half vajra finial and he appears to be chewing a snake or a corpse.

5th-7th century, Gandhara, Sahri Bahlol, Chakrapurusha (personification of Vishnu’s discus), bronze, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

Although not related to Buddhism, this sculpture of Chakrapurusha is interesting because it is reminiscent of the friendly yaksha appearance so popular in Tibetan art, and because the solar disc behind him is a recurrent feature in Gandharan sculptures of buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Jammu and Kashmir, various styles (2)

12th century, Jammu and Kashmir, Shakyamuni (labelled Amitabha), wood, at the British Museum in London (UK).

This rare wooden work likely depicts Shakyamuni in his ‘crowned buddha’ form, dressed in a sanghati that covers both shoulders, his hands in the meditation gesture. (Amitabha with a princely appearance would be wearing a lower garment only). The treatment of the face, especially the eyes, and the lotus seat recall a wooden buddha at the Cleveland Museum previous labelled Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) and now labelled ‘Western Tibet’.

10th-11th century, Jammu and Kashmir or Western Tibet, Ratnasambhava, panel from a crown, wood with traces of polychromy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Ratnasambhava is identified by the horses that support his throne (see close up here). He is shown in his bodhisattva appearance, wearing a long dhoti and adorned with a garland, beaded jewellery and a tripartite crown with rosettes and ribbons like those on the clay sculptures at Charang and Poo seen previously. Above his head, two leogryphs, and at the top, Kirtimukha with vegetation in his mouth.

Circa 8th century, Jammu and Kashmir, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

Compare the incised geometrical motif on Vajrapani’s garment, his facial features, the shape of his crown and earrings with a sculpture seen in the Ladakh section of this blog and reproduced below:

10th century, Ladakh, Rakta Lokeshvara, photo by Christie’s.