Tibet, various buddhas (5)

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Nagaraja, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on GG-ART   

Nageshvara/Nagaraja, with a naga-hood made of seven snakes, his fingers knitted in a gesture specific to him.

13th century, Tibet, Vajravidarana, wood with traces of gilding and lacquer, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (UK).

Vajravidarana with a peaceful face and princely attire (white form), holding a (missing) visvajra before his heart and a vajra bell against his left hip.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Virasena, gilt bronze, private collection, photo and details on Bonhams  

Virasena, identified through an inscription on the back of the sculpture, is one of the 35 buddhas of confession. He is depicted holding the stem of lotuses that support the hilt of a sword and a manuscript.


Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (5)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s Amsterdam, sale 2761.

Chanda Vajrapani holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a lasso in the other, sometimes pointing sideways. This example belongs to a group of Tibetan brass works with a tripartite flaming hair bunch mentioned previously (gathered in the page devoted to this topic in the top left-hand corner of this blog).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and gems, private collection, Important Asian Art Auction, lot 8080.

Most of the time his left hand does a threatening gesture (karana mudra as above or tarjani mudra as below) while holding the lasso before his heart.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani – Krodha (wrathful), gilt metal (with stone inlay and pigment), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

16th century, Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, gilt bronze, sale 14259 Art d’Asie, Paris, Christie’s.

With three heads and six hands, two of which hold a long snake caught in his mouth, another two embrace his consort while displaying the fear-allaying (abhaya) and the supreme generosity (varada) gestures, his top right hand brandishes a vajra sceptre, the top left hand does a threatening gesture. The couple stand on Brahma and Shiva. When depicted with two hands, as above, his consort holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani and consort, bronze with copper alloy and pigment, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

A singular sculpture depicting a deity with three heads, six arms, and what apperas to be four legs and wings. He stands on two victims, in embrace with his consort and holding a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands. The middle hands clutch a drum and a miniature garuda, he likely held his main attribute, a vajra sceptre, in the top right hand and another implement on the other side. He is adorned with three-skull crowns, bone ornaments, a garland of severed heads and snakes.

Tibet, Achala (13)

The page ‘Tibet, Vajrapani with tripartite bunch’ in the ‘Comparing Works’ section of this blog has been updated and renamed ‘Wrathful deities with tripartite hair bunch’ given that the first two sculptures below depict Achala, and that another was published long ago.

11th-12th century, Western Tibet, Achala, bronze with cold gold and pigment, photo on Leonard Joel  .

Blue Achala always bites his lower lip. In his two-hand form he brandishes a sword in his right hand and does the tarjani or the karana mudra with the left hand while holding a lasso or a vajra sceptre at heart level, which is not the case here. Instead, he holds his left hand against his hip as if clutching a bell, like Vajrapani.


He wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth with the head of the animal over his right knee.

12th-13th century, Tibet, possibly Western, Achala, copper alloy, private collection, lot 94, Arts d’Asie 15th March 2006, Millon.

With the same tripartite flaming hair bunch, low tiara (with rosettes instead of bows), tight-fitting loin cloth, snake ornaments and single lotus base with elongated petals going downwards, standing on two victims.

13th century, Tibet, Achala, bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s  .

The format of the photo doesn’t allow a closer view but Christie’s inform that there is an effigy of Akshobhya in this deity’s hair and that he holds the hilt of a (broken) sword in his right hand (that differentiates him from Vajrapani who holds a vajra sceptre) and a snake-shaped lasso in the left hand.

13th century, Western Tibet, Acala, copper alloy, private collection, photo on origineexpert  .

13th-14th century, Western Tibet, Acala, brass with turquoise and ruby (or spinel?), private collection, photo on origineexpert  .

When not standing on two victims he normally stands on elephant-headed Ganapati.

16th century, Tibet, Acala, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on origineexpert as above.

Tibet, Jambhala – various forms (5)

13th-14th century, Tibet?, Black Jambhala, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Ethereal

Black Jambhala always stands in a war-like pose, fierce, naked and ithyphallic (the auctioneers inform that this figure’s phallus is broken), treading on a single victim who may be Ganapati but is often a male figure holding a treasure. The above has an upright vajra sceptre in his hair.

13th-14th century, Tibet or Ladakh, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo on Nagel

He holds a skull cup or a pot of gems in his right hand, often before his heart, and a mongoose disgorging jewels in the other.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala, copper alloy, Josette and Théo Schulmann collection, photo on  Gazette Drouot

The victim himself may be vomiting jewels.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala (labelled ‘Yellow Jambhala), bronze, private collection, photo on Drouot .

Only 5 cm tall, this figure was likely made for a portable shrine.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 4 as before.

This is a singular image of wrathful Jambhala with a noose in his right hand. He stands on two victims and holds a mongoose in his left hand (not visible here).

16th century, Tibet (or later Chinese copy?), Rakta Jambhala, bronze, private collection?, photo on gg-art

Rakta (Red) Jambhala has three heads, six hands, in which he holds various implements, and four legs treading on two yakshas who vomit jewels. On this example he has a mongoose in each of his lower hands, a skull cup filled with gems and a triple gem in his middle hands, an elephant goad and a (missing) lasso or snare in the upper ones. There is a small pot of gems on the pedestal.

Tibet, Manjushri – various forms (6)

11th century, Western Tibet, White Manjushri, brass, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This Kashmiri-style sculpture displays features associated with the Guge kingdom, such as the accessories with a large floral design, the long garland of individually crafted flowers, the dhoti much shorter on one side and made of strips of coloured cloth (represented by silver and copper inlay) with a deeply incised motif, the large head with a tall crown and prominent bows. Since the lotus in his left hand is broken, the only element that identifies him as Manjushri is, presumably, his hair style.

16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 3.

White Manjushri seated, holding the stem of lotuses that support the hilt of a sword and the Prajnaparamita sutra.

12th century, Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy (labelled ‘copper’), private collection, photo on Ethereal  and Sotheby’s (who give a 12th-13th century date).

Manjushri on a Pala-style lotus base, brandishing a flaming sword and holding a lotus topped with the book. The very tall central leaf on his crown recalls a 12th-13th century Tibetan Manjushri seen previously. This one wears a shorter dhoti decorated with a stippled lotus print, held in place with a belt and a sash.

11th-12th century, Western Tibet (or later Chinese copy?), Arapacana Manjughosa, bronze, private collection?, photo on gg-art

There are two forms of Manjushri seated with his legs locked, wielding a sword above his head with the right hand and holding a book close to his heart with the left hand:  arapachana, with a white body on paintings, and sthiracakra bhavana described as having  saffron-coloured skin. In Western Tibet the book is usually held vertically.

18th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt bronze, private collection?, photo on gg-art as before, page 30.

Vadisimha Manjushri, seated on a lion with his left leg pendent, holding the stem of lotuses that hold the hilt of a sword and a book (missing here). His hands are normally held in the teaching gesture (‘turning the wheel of dharma‘).

Pala India, a few yaksha figures

Circa 10th-11th century, Eastern India, unidentified yaksha, black stone, private collection, photo on Kapoor Galleries

This friendly and beautifully crafted yaksha must be an important entity since he is accompanied by two apsaras, in clouds attached to his halo, and two attendants with a bodhisattva appearance, who lean on a post and hold a lotus. Like Yellow Jambhala, he holds a citrus fruit in his right hand, and the jewel on his chignon points to a wealth deity too, but there is no mongoose in his left hand. Instead, he holds the stem of a blue lotus.

Pala period (circa 12th century?Northeast India?), Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo Ethereal  .

Clad in a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth with a thick border, wrathful Vajrapani wields a vajra sceptre and does a threatening gesture – the attribute missing from his left hand was probably a lasso or perhaps a bell.

12th century, Northeast India? (labelled ‘Pala period’), Chaturbhuja Mahakala, stone, private collection, photo on Ethereal as before.

Mahakala with four hands, seated on a victim whose right arm shows under him, his right leg pendent and the foot placed on a lotus. He holds a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands, a staff in the upper left one, a (now broken) sword in the other, and is adorned with jewellery, snakes and a garland of human skulls.

12th-13th century, Northeast India, Jambhala, Pala style, copper alloy, private collection, photo on  Lempertz.

Yellow Jambhala, seated in royal ease, his right foot on a vase of abundance supported by a lotus bud, displaying a citron in his right hand while the mongoose in his left hand disgorges jewels onto his lap. The plinth of the lotus base is decorated with scrolling vines.

Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani (14)

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 4.

Chanda Vajrapani, brandishing a vajra sceptre in his right hand and doing a threatening gesture with the other while holding a (missing) lasso, adorned partly with snakes and partly with princely accessories including a five-leaf crown.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (brass), private collection, on Christie’s

14th century, Tibet (or later copy?), Vajrapani, gilt bronze with cold gold and pigment, private collection?, photo on GG-ART

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, published in ‘The Buddhist Deity Vajrapani’ by Gouriswar Bhattacharya on Academia.eduThis one wears a tripartite crown with a large floral design and wide bows, bulky jewellery, a sacred cord, small snakes around his wrists and ankles.

16th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Shirley Day Ltd, same publication as before.

The author of the article points out that on this image Vajrapani has one foot on a snake and the other on a human victim. Also, the long snake used as a sacred thread goes over his right shoulder (on early works it is usually over the left shoulder but on the first picture and on the next one it is also worn over the right shoulder). Among his princely jewellery we will note the cross-belt with a central flower and ‘raining-jewel’ pendants.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy and pigments, photo by Capriaquar on Academia Edu .

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled Mahakala), bronze with traces of lacquer and pigment, private collection, photo by Beaussant-Lefèvre, Arts d’Asie 2016.

Late Tibetan sculptures of wrathful deities are often in the Chinese style, with a much fiercer look, bushy eyebrows, pointed fingers and toes, sharp flaming hair, a flat scarf with serpentine ends, and the tail of the tiger skin dangling at the front.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Eddie’s Auction

Wrathful Vajrapani with a tripartite hair bunch – see the new page in the ‘comparing works’ section of this blog in the left-hand margin-  and a bell in his left hand.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy with pigment), private collection, photo on Artcurial .

Vajrapani with an upturned bell in his left hand, crushing a single victim with a human appearance.