Tibet, Vajrapani – Canda (2)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with pigment, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

In his popular canda form wrathful Vajrapani normally brandishes a single thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) in his right hand; the above holds a double one (visvajra). He wears snake ornaments, a tiger skin around his waist, foliate jewellery and matching crown with rosettes, large floral earrings and a celestial scarf. His flaming hair is topped with a lotus bud finial.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, hollow brass with pigments, stone and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

His left hand may do a threatening gesture with the forefinger raised, or a gesture to ward off evil, as above. His tiger skin dhoti is fastened with a snake. His facial hair and mitre-like chignon are painted with orange pigment to signify his wrathful nature.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, silver with turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral inlay, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

Although this one has lost his attribute, the position of the hands are those of canda Vajrapani.



Tibet, Hayagriva alone (2)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Shadbhuja Hayagriva, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

Hayagriva in his three-head and six-hand form, each head with three eyes, bared fangs, earrings and a tall crown, the hair gathered in a bunch, topped in this instance with 9 horses’ heads instead of just one, clad in a tiger skin dhoti and adorned with snake ornaments, jewellery and a sacred thread made of human hair, standing on eight snakes (nagas) on a double lotus base, a small figure (possibly the donor) fastened to the rim. He holds a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) and a bell (ghanta) in his upper hands, his middle hands do the gesture to hold a lasso and ward off evil, the others may have held a sword and a spear or a ritual staff.

17th century circa, Tibet, Hayagriva, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this more modern work he has one head and two hands and stands on a rocky formation. He wears a long snake as a sacred cord, a celestial scarf, a skull tiara and has a single horse’s head on top of his flaming hair.

Same as before, dark bronze, private collection, photo by Koller.

Following the tradition, he is depicted here with a human hide and an elephant hide across his back. His left hand does a threatening gesture (tarjani) while the other holds a thunderbolt sceptre. He is adorned with a garland of freshly severed heads, snakes, stone-inlaid jewellery (the stones now missing), a five-skull crown and floral earrings. There is a large horse’s head on top of his chignon.

17th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, copper with cold gold and pigments, by Choying Dorje, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

17th century or later, Tibet, possibly Hayagriva, copper with cold gold and pigments, by Choying Dorje or later, Potala Palace collection, published on http://www.asianart.com


Tibet, Sitatapatra (2)

12th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Tibetan sculptures of the  ‘White Parasol’ are few and usually late ones, those that depict her seated are extremely rare. The above is a three-head and eight-hand version. Her main hands are doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture, the other left hands hold a closed victory banner, a bow, and what looks like a water pot. The lower right hand holds a wheel (cakra), the others probably held a vajra sceptre and an arrow.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, bronze, Van Ham auctions on http://www.lotissimo.com

This Pala revival image depicts Sitatapatra with one head and two hands, the left one folded to support a missing parasol. She may have had a wheel in the other.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Sitatapatra, metal (copper alloy with cold gold and pigments), at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (UK).

The spectacular 1000 heads, 1000 arms and 1ooo legs version includes a parasol (broken here) in one of her main hands.

18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold (and pigments), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one has lost all her side hands but still has a mirror in her main right hand (the other held the missing parasol).


Tibet, standing Tara (2)

12th century, Tibet, Tara, brass with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Standing on a tall lotus base with apple-like petals, Tara does the refuge-bestowing gesture with her left hand while holding the stem of a lotus, her right hand displaying supreme generosity. Her face is painted with cold gold, the hair is dyed with blue pigment. She wears a garland and a diaphanous sash across her chest and two see-through lower garments, held in place with a heavy belt decorated with pendants.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze with cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Pala-style sculpture depicts her on a single lotus over a stepped tortoise-base typical of Northeast India, wearing a long stripy garment  with a stippled floral motif. Her low tiara with large bows reveals an exaggeratedly tall chignon with showy ornaments.

There  is a round object in the palm of her right hand, possibly a large gem.

There are over twenty different forms of Tara and most of them are usually seated but they may be standing.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Tara, gilt metal, at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York (USA).



Tibet, Green Tara (5)

12th century circa, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Green Tara is seated on a tall Pala-style base, her right foot on a lotus, the stem of a lotus in her left hand, another wound around her right arm, the right hand displaying the fear-allaying gesture. We will note her left foot resting on the right thigh.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, at the National Gallery of Canada.

Another Pala-style image of her with the left foot resting on the right leg. Her hands display the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, she wears a very ornate floral and festooned headdress with a leonine medallion at the centre, foliate armbands, large hoops, a beaded necklace, plain bracelets and anklets, a long lower garment held in place with a belt.

13th century, Southern Tibet, Tara, brass, same as before.

A similar hair ornament with a large leonine head at the centre, her hair fastened into two bunches, her garment richly decorated with incised floral panels, a diamond incised in the palm of her hands. Her left leg is drawn in, with the big toe wide apart.

Labelled ’10th-12th century origin Kashmir or Nepal’ by the Museum, 14th century, Tibet on Himalayan Art Resources, Tara, brass with turquoise and cold gold, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

This Pala-style work portrays her with her hair fastened into a bunch on one side and another type headdress, with flowers, bows and ribbons. A broad necklace covers the top of her chest.

18th century, Tibet, Tara, at the Ashmoleum Museum in Oxford (UK).

This is an example of the late Pala-revival style, the goddess’s left hand holding a lotus and leaning on her left knee, her right hand displaying the fear-allying gesture.

18th century, Western Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy) with silver inlay, at the National Gallery in Prague (Czech Republic).

On this variant the left hand simply rests over the knee, the toes of the left foot are held wide apart. Silver inlay has been used for the floral and vegetation pattern on both garments.


Tibet, lamas and their garments (3)

12th century circa, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Early Tibetan sculptures normally depict lamas with a sleeveless undergarment, an outer robe which covers the lower undergarment, and a meditation cloak usually worn over the shoulders and wrapping the knees. The above is seated on a low double-lotus base with a backplate decorated with lotus buds and topped with a triratna (set of three gems). The style of his hat originates from the Dolpo area in Nepal.

The artist has used thick beading for the edge of the backplate, incisions for the patched robe, stippling for the floral decoration on the edge of the cloak and piping for the hems.

13th century circa, Tibet, Kagyu lama, copper alloy with copper inlay on mouth, nails and hem, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The meditation cloak is pleated and has a small collar.

The hem of all the garments is often incised, with a floral or a geometrical pattern.

18th century, Tibet, Sakya lama, gilt metal, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Sometimes the cloak has slipped off the lama’s shoulders and is piled up around him. We will note the waist of the lower garment showing, and the long strands of plaited hair.

14th-15th century, Tibet. lama, gilt copper, is or was at the Jokhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This lama doesn’t wear a cloak, his patched robe covers his legs down to the ankles. Traditionally, the right arm is left bare. He does the turning-the-wheel-of-dharma gesture with his hands.

15th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

As fashion evolves, the pleats of the lower garment gathered under the breast begin to show slightly under the outer robe around the 15th century.

15th-16th century, Central Tibet, lama, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Resources.

17th century, Tibet, lama, metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

At times, the waist of the garment, pleated and held in place with a belt, shows completely.




Tibet, various mahasiddhas (8)

12th century, Tibet or Nepal, Mahasiddha, possibly Krishnacharya (Kanha), gilt copper and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The Indian adept holds a skull cup in his right hand and seems to have had another object in his left hand, probably a drum or a vajra sceptre judging by the way he holds it. This iconography corresponds to various famous mahasiddhas, and some mahasiddhas can be depicted in several ways so it is difficult to identify them without an inscription on the base.

Late 15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

And even with an inscription on the back of the pedestal, it is not always clear who we are looking at. This particular one reads ‘homage to pha.rkon.tshan.ras.chen’. We saw a similar image of a certain Tenzin Lundrup with the same headdress. The above is seated on a tiger skin, and, like Virupa, he holds a skull cup in his left hand and does a pointing gesture with the other.

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, bronze (copper alloy) and pigments private collection.

This character is saluting with his right hand and holds a skull cup with a large spherical object (jewel?) in it.

17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and red pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This wrathful character wears a leopard skin loincloth and a human hide on his back. He holds a stick topped with a skull and may have had a skull cup in his left hand. The position of his legs suggests he was riding a mount, now missing. Some figures labelled ‘mahasiddha‘ are depicted with a semi-wrathful face and blue hair. This one has red flaming hair and looks rather like a wrathful deity.

18th century, Tibet, gilt bronze (copper alloy), same as before.

An unusual sculpture of a bearded man wearing a conical headdress, his right hand doing the teaching gesture, the other holding a manuscript, seated on an oval lotus base with incised petals, over a stepped rectangular plinth.