Nepal, various characters (3)

11th-12th century, Nepal, Vajrapurusha, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This friendly yaksha is identified as the embodiment of Vajrapani’s attribute thanks to the half-vajra emerging from his chignon and the way he stands with this arms crossed over his chest. He wears a cape and a loin cloth, and is adorned with floral earrings and snakes.

16th-17th century, Nepal, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, parcel-gilt copper repoussé with paint, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Indian & Southeast Asian Art, 1st April 2005, lot 87.

The two arhats wear a brocaded shawl that leaves the right arm free, and a long pleated skirt-like garment with an incised border such as we have seen on various Nepalese sculptures of buddha Dipankara. They hold a bowl in their left hand and a staff (not normally associated with them) in the other.

16th-17th century, Nepal, labelled ‘Naja Chenmo’ (?), wood, private collection, photo on Ethereal .

18th century, Nepal, garuda, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo on  Hardt .

The mythical bird-like creature holds a naga in its beak and and in its hand. Its flaming hair is decorated with a  crescent moon+sun disc+dissolution point symbol.

18th century, Nepal, karmapa and devotee, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 103 China 1.

The male figure is dressed in kingly attire, including a long-sleeve coat that cover both arms and a cloud-shaped cape (unusual for a karmapa). He is seated with his legs locked and wears a lotus hat, a mala, and earrings now lost. He holds a rosary and a book. The female figure has her hair tied in a bun and is adorned with earrings and various necklaces. She sits in a relaxed manner and her hands are in the gesture of salutation.

Nepal, a few female characters

Undated (Transitional Period), Nepal, Chunda, gilt metal (copper or copper alloy), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

This goddess, which some regard as a form of Tara, is the embodiment of a mantra. She may be standing or seated and has one head and 4 arms (sometimes 16 or 18). Her attributes vary and may include a bowl in the main hands, a rosary (replaced by a ring here) and a book in the upper ones.

13th century, Nepal, pancha raksha goddess, gilt and lacquered polychrome wood, private collection, photo by Bonhams, Images of Devotion 2016, lot 118, Hong Kong.

This unusual one-head and eight-arm deity holds a sword, a wheel, an arrow, and a vajra sceptre in her right hands, a sling, a conch shell, a bow, and a bell in the others. Among the pancha raksha deities, a 4-head and 8-hand form of Pratisara holds the same attributes except for the shell (she has a fly whisk instead).

15th-16th century, Nepal, goddess, wood, at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin (Germany).

17th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, wood, photo from the Huntington Archive, nº 9431, at the National Museum in Kathmandu (Nepal).

In her one-head and two-arm form Vasudhara normally has a third eye and stretches her right arm, either to make the gesture of supreme generosity or to hold a vase full of jewels. The above makes the gesture of debate. She normally has a sheaf of grain and sometimes a vase filled with gems in her left hand.

17th century, Nepal, adorant, polychrome wood, private collection, photo by Bonhams, Images of Devotion 2019, lot 943, Hong Kong.

Half kneeling and half crouching, this lady presses her hands together before her heart in the gesture of salutation. She is adorned with elaborate jewellery and a single-leaf tiara with rosettes and ribbons. Following the Malla fashion, her long lower garment is held in place with a belt and complemented with a green sash.

Undated, Nepal, (devotee, painted wood), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

A similar figure, with an extra necklace and a shorter garment with a floral print.

17th century, Nepal, Tara, rhino horn with traces of red pigment, private collection, photo by Bonhams, 9th November 2017, lot 155, London.

A rare sculpture of Green Tara, seated in a relaxed manner, her right foot on a large lotus attached to the base, her right hand in the fear-allaying gesture, the other (once) holding the stem of a lotus.

Nepal, dakinis (3)

Circa 5th century, Nepal, crow-headed dakini, stone,  photo nº 50212 from the Huntington Archive , at the Svayambhu stupa complex in Santipura.

This dakini with the head of a crow is similar to Kakasya, one of the four-gate dakinis, and Kakamukha, an attendant on the outer circle of a mandala. The above has four hands, in which she holds a drum and a ritual staff, a flaying knife and a skull cup. She stands on both legs and is adorned with a five-skull crown, bone jewellery, a bone apron, a garland of severed heads.

Circa 5th century, Nepal, owl-headed dakini, stone, photo on the Hungtington Archive as before, at the Svayambhu stupa complex in Santipura (Nepal).

A similar character, with the same attributes and the head of an owl, such as Ulukasya and Ulumukha, who normally have two arms and hold different implements.

Licchavi period, Nepal, Simhamukha, stone, photo from the Huntington Archive, nº 18796, at the Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu (Nepal).The popular lion-headed wisdom dakini stands in a dancing pose, brandishing a flaying knife and holding a skull cup before her heart, a ritual staff placed in the crook of her left arm.

16th century, Nepal, Simhamukha (labelled ‘Simhavaktra’), black stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17719 lot 225, Paris.

On this more recent work we can see her third eye, curled tongue, bared fangs, and  flaming hair, together with her usual five-skull crown, bone jewellery, and garland of severed heads. She stands on a victim, and wears a human hide over her shoulders and a long snake around her neck.

11th-12th century, Nepal, Vajravarahi, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

Vajravarahi, identified by the head of a sow coming out of her right temple, stands in the same pose and holds the same attributes as the previous figure. She has a human face, with a third eye and bared fangs, and wears the same wrathful adornments.

Circa 17th century, Nepal, dakini, wood, architectural strut, private collection, photo on 25 Blythe Road .A one-head and four-arm figure with a peaceful yaksha appearance, holding a rosary and a bunch of lotuses in her upper hands, a skull cup in her lower right hand, the left one in the gesture to bestow refuge (kartari mudra).

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (6)

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Nilambara/Nilambadhara Vajrapani brandishes a vajra sceptre in his right hand at head level and holds a bell against his left hip, often upside down. He is usually adorned with nothing but snakes, including a long one to tie his mass of flaming hair.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, brass with pigment and traces of cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Canda/Chanda Vajrapani is quite similar but with a lasso in his left hand, his fingers making a threatening gesture, as above, or the gesture to ward off evil. On this masterpiece he is adorned with jewellery, wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth, and has an upright vajra at the top of his mitre-like hair.

14th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

We have seen other examples of him standing on a lotus base including a garuda on a bed of snakes (see on HAR , and here).

15th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, brass with stones, cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as above, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy (with cold gold, pigment and turquoise), private collection?, photo in an article by Marianne Talma on

Nepal, various buddhas (3)

12th century, Nepal, Vairocana, copper with traces of cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Vairocana is seated on brocaded cushion atop a throne supported by lions, his hands in the gesture of enlightenment specific to him, adorned with a tripartite foliate crown with rosettes and ribbons, large floral earrings, a short necklace, large armbands, plain bracelets and a beaded belt. He wears a sash across his chest and a long dhoti with a patterned border.

13th century, Nepal, Vairocana, gilt copper with stone inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The same entity seated on a three-legged tool, a design proper to Nepal, adorned with a Malla-style crown, and shin adornments that match his armbands, but only one necklace and no sash or scarf.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Ethereal .

Vajrasattva in his two-hand form, seated in the vajra position, holding an upright vajra sceptre in his right hand and an upturned vajra bell in the other.

15th century, Nepal, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Ethereal .  

A variant, with the bell held horizontally.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Vajradhara, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9822 lot 154, London.

The addi buddha usually holds a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell in his hands crossed over his heart. The above has a half-vajra finial on his chignon.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Vajradhara, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 14259, Paris.

When not in his hands, his attributes are supported by lotuses placed by his side on the lotus base (missing here).

Circa 16th-17th century, Nepal, labelled ‘Vajradhara and Prajnaparamita’, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 4.

Vajradhara in embrace with Bhagavani, who holds the same attributes. On this example she sits with only one leg around his waist.

17th century, Nepal, Akshobhya, gilt metal, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai, India, photo Photo Dharma .

Akshobhya is seated on a cushion atop a stepped throne with elephants and a wheel of dharma at the front. The arch behind him is decorated with viyalas, makaras, nagarajas, a garuda, and a parasol at the apex. An upright vajra sceptre is missing from his left hand (unless this is the historical buddha).

17th-18th century, Nepal, Ratnasambhava, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17598 lot 371.

A Chinese-style Ratnasambhava with a lock of hair on his forehead, displaying a jewel incised in the palm of his right hand. His loosely draped silk garment covers both shoulders and most of the (missing) lotus base.

Pala India, crowned buddha (2)

10th-11th century, Northeastern India, crowned Buddha, phyllite, private collection, photo on Christie’s , Amsterdam.

The historical buddha is seated with both legs pendant, his feet placed on a lotus atop a platform decorated with a dharma wheel and a couple of deer, his hands making the ‘turning the wheel of law’ gesture. He is attended by Avalokiteshvara, who holds a large open lotus, and Maitreya, on the other side. The back of the throne includes a parasol at the top, two stupas and a nimbus supported by a lotus.

11th century, Northeastern India (labelled ‘Burma’), Shakyamuni, brass with silver inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A figure with silver-inlaid features (eyes, jewellery, wheels on the sole of his feet), adorned with a distinctive crown with rosettes, almond-shaped earrings, a necklace with round pendants, all typical of 11th-century portable metal sculptures made in Bihar.

12th century, Northeastern India, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Bonhams , Hong Kong.

Shakyamuni stands on a lotus pedestal atop a mandala-shaped four-legged base with a kneeling devotee at the front, and a flaming arch with a triple-gem design reminiscent of Gandharan bronzes around a back plate with a large flower behind the buddha’s head.

Pala India, various female deities (7)

11th-12th century, India, Sitatara, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This female figure seated in the vajra position holds the stem of a blue lotus that supports a manuscript (normally associated with Prajnaparamita). Her right hand makes the gesture of generosity, the other bestows refuge (tip of the ring finger on tip of the thumb).

11th-12th century, India, possibly Ushnishavijaya, stone, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Ushnishavijaya in her three-head and eight-arm form, with an effigy of Amitabha in one of her upper right hands and a visvajra in the other. The remaining attributes are a bunch of flowers?, an arrow, a noose, a bow, and the stem of a lotus.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Tara, bronze with silver and copper inlay, photo on Christie’s

A rare sculpture of Tara with one head and six arms, seated with a leg pendant, her foot placed on a lotus rising from the base. Her upper right hand holds a rosary, the next one down clutches a manuscript, the lower one is in the gesture of generosity. Her upper left hands holds the stem of a day/open lotus, a blue/closed lotus?, a water pot. Christie’s inform us that this image is from the tradition of the 21 Taras of Mahasiddha Suryagupta.

12th century, India, Vajra Tara, brass (copper alloy with silver inlay), photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This example of Vajra Tara has four heads instead of the usual one. She holds an arrow, a bow, the long stem of a lotus and a (missing) hook in her left hands, another arrow (missing here), a vajra sceptre, a (missing) noose and a conch shell in her right hands.

11th-12th century, India, Vajravarahi lotus mandala, bronze with silver inlay, private collection, photo and details on Christie’s , Hong Kong.