Nepal, Avalokiteshvara (7)

12th-13th century, Nepal, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt

In Nepal this form of Avalokiteshvara rarely has the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder, and on many occasions there is no effigy of Amitabha in his headdress either. The above is therefore identified by the roundish eight-petal lotus in his left hand and the position of his right hand (in this case in the gesture of supreme generosity).

Circa 1250, Nepal, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), black stone, private collection, photo on Catawiki .

A singular stone example, with a more realistic lotus, an effigy of Amitabha at the front of his single-leaf tiara, serpentine armbands typical of early Nepalese works, and an unusual hairstyle.

13th century, Nepal, Padmapani Lokeshvara, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 19680 lot 718, and on Himalayan Art Resources (dated 14th century).

During the Malla period, portable metal sculptures are richly gilt and inlaid with gems, lotuses have well-defined multi-layered petals and a raised heart, crowns are more elaborate and usually have a small Kirtimukha at the front, with vegetation coming out of its mouth and a separate leaf on each side.

Circa 17th century, Nepal, Padmapani, stone, private collection, photo on Cornette de Saint Cyr .

18th century, Nepal, Padmapani Lokeshvara, wood with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt .

Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani (5)

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, (brass with cold gold), photo on HAR , at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi (India).

Vajrapani, the bodhisattva form of Akshobhya, stands on a Pala-style lotus base, his left hand placed on his hip, the other holding an upright vajra sceptre before his heart. He wears a short dhoti decorated with incisions and a stippled pattern, a celestial scarf, a low three-leaf crown, large earrings (one is missing), beaded jewellery, and a sacred cord.

13th century or earlier, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled ‘Tara’), bronze, private collection, photo on Woolley & Wallis .

When seated in a relaxed manner he often leans on his left hand while holding the stem of a lotus that raises from the base, and holds his main attribute in his right hand.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with traces of gilding, item 91.522 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

The vajra sceptre may be held before his heart as on the previous picture, or to his right side, as above.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (one of ‘two protective divinities for travelling’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo on De Baecque .

One of two sculptures from the same atelier. This one features Vajrapani seated with his legs locked, his vajra sceptre in the right hand, upright before his heart, his left hand cupped against his hip to hold a vajra bell not visible here.

Tibet, various bodhisattvas (4)

12th-13th century, Central Tibet, bodhisattva, copper alloy, photo on VMFA.

This elegant Pala-style bodhisattva holds the stem of a lotus in his left hand and a flat stick in the other – an attribute associated with Akashagarbha when standing (normally held in both hands).

13th century, Tibet, Amoghapasha, wood with painted details, photo on  Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyère (Switzerland).

This monk’s travelling shrine depicts nine deities (see above link) including Amoghapasha at the centre, in his one-head and two-arm form, presumably identified by the position of his left hand, palm out and displaying a ring between the thumb and forefinger, specific to him. The right hand is in the gesture of supreme generosity. We have only seen one other example, on HAR .

14th century (or later?), Tibet, labelled ‘Padmapani’, bronze, private collection, photo on Tajan .

A singular sculpture of a male figure with an antelope skin over his left shoulder but no lotus in his left hand (unlike Avalokiteshvara in his ‘lotus-bearer’ form),  and a water pot in his right hand (which Maitreya would hold in his left hand, by the neck). 

10th century, Tibet, votive plaque, terracotta, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyère (Switzerland).

On this triad the historical buddha is flanked by Vajrapani, holding an upright vajra sceptre before his heart, his left hand placed against his hip, and Avalokiteshvara holding the stem of a lotus in his left hand.

16th-17th century, Tibet, labelled ‘Tara and consorts’, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt .

Here the main deity is Tara. The figure to her right holds a manuscript in his left hand and a lotus which appears to be topped with a vajra sceptre in the other. The attendant on the other side holds a conch shell in his left hand and possibly a rosary in the right one.

Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – standing (19)

12th-13th century, West(ern) Tibet, Padmapani, bronze with silver-inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt .

This Kashmiri-style bodhisattva has all the attributes of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani (lotus-bearer) form: an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, an antelope skin over his left shoulder, a lotus in his left hand – and his right hand is in the gesture of supreme generosity. While the engraved dhoti shorter on one side, the foliate garland, the beaded sacred cord, and the large eight-petal lotus recall earlier works made by Kashmiri artist for Guge patrons, the treatment of the eyes is different and the pectorals are not as clearly marked as usual. Also, the additional ribbons that flow upwards are not associated with Himalayan works. The use of blue mineral pigment on the ribbons, earrings and lotus departs from tradition.

10th century, Western Regions, Tibet, Six-Armed Lokeshvara, bronze, photo on Brooklyn Museum .

Shadbhuja Lokeshvara, an antelope skin on his left shoulder, the effigy of Amitabha at the base of his topknot, a lotus in his main left hand, stands on a lotus atop a tall Kashmiri-style plinth. He holds a water pot in his lower left hand, a vajra-hook and a fly whisk in his upper hands, a rosary in his main right hand.

13th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

The water pot held by the neck, in his left hand, derives from Gandharan art, where it is Maitreya’s main attribute. It is not clear if he holds a lotus flower with it but there is a large one at the front of his crown. His right hand is in the fear-allaying gesture and holds a rosary.

Late 18th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, ivory, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s, Paris .

Tibet, Achala (17)

13th century, Tibet, Acalanatha, bronze with copper-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo and full description on Navin Kumar .

Blue Achala with a yaksha appearance, in his one-face (with 3 eyes) and two- arm form, brandishes the flaming sword of wisdom in his right hand, and has a vajra-tipped noose round his left forefinger held in a threatening gesture (tarjani mudra), his feet crushing two victims. He is clad in a tiger skin loin cloth and adorned with a crown, a scarf, and princely jewellery. His flaming hair is tied with a snake and another, used as a sacred cord, is knotted over his left shoulder.

14th century or earlier, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Uppsala .

This form of Achala never has his mouth open and usually bites down his lower lip with his upper fangs. On sculptures his hair is blue or red (black on paintings). He sometimes stands on elephant-headed Ganapati, as above.

15th century, Tibet, Acala, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt .

15th century, Tibet?, Acala, bronze (with silver inlay), private collection, photo on lot-art

He may have an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

17th century, Tibet, Acala, silver, private collection, photo on Hardt.

Undated, Tibet, Achala, bronze, private collection, photo on lot-art .

He may have a human appearance. He may also have his right leg bent and the left knee pressed down on the base, in which case there is no victim under him.

Possibly 16th-17th century (or circa 19th century?), Tibet, Acala, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Sworders

14th century, Tibet, Achala, gilt wood, private collection, photo on Michael Backman .

A singular carving of a figure adorned with floral jewellery and a matching crown, unusual for Achala, holding a coiled lasso that forms a shield.

Tibet, Yellow Jambhala (23)

13th century, Western Tibet, (Yellow Jambhala, brass), private collection, photo on westerntibet .

Early Tibetan brass works often depict Yellow Jambhala with a Pala-style chignon and low tiara with prominent side bows, his foot placed on a lotus at the front of the base, holding a mongoose in his left hand and an egg-shaped fruit in the other. The above is flanked by lotuses topped with what may be jewels. His right leg is off-centre, for the foot to rest on a lotus that stems from the side of the plinth, which is not very common.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s.

This one sports an elegant Chinese-style topknot and has a rather serious face.

17th century, Tibet, Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), bronze, private collection, photo on Drouot .

A very rotund yaksha with no third eye, adorned with a floral crown, matching earrings, and a floral garland. His right foot rests on a conch shell atop a long-life vase. The mongoose in his left hand disgorges jewels that pile up on the side of the base.

17th century, Tibet, Yellow Jambhala, clay with pigments, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This rare Chinese-style work portrays him like an angry and rather elderly yaksha with bushy eyebrows and a moustache, no third eye, seated on a large conch shell. His mongoose has a jewel in its mouth, his crown is made of lotuses topped with triple gems, the leaf in his right hand contains what looks like three prickly pears arranged like a triple gem.

18th century, Tibet, Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), bronze, private collection, photo on Tajan .

Probably made for a portable shrine, this tiny figure (around 5 cm tall) depicts him with a crown made of large jewels.

Tibet, Padmasambhava (20)

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt metal (copper alloy with turquoise inlay), private collection, photo on HAR .

This striking sculpture depicts Padmasambhava seated on a lotus atop a throne decorated with two lions, two lotuses and an upright vajra sceptre, supported by legs shaped like budding vegetation, its singular backrest made of long-stemmed lotus buds and flowers, with two birds at the top.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, (brass?), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

He is easily identified by his layman’s garments, thick felt boots, lotus hat with a sun-and-moon symbol at the front and a vulture feather on the top (sometimes three), and his large earrings. He holds a vajra sceptre pointing to his heart and has a skull cup in his left hand.

18th century or later, Tibet, Padmasambhava, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 19016 lot 62.

He normally has a ritual staff tucked in the crook of his left arm.

18th century, Central Tibet, Padmasambhava, (gilt) copper alloy with gemstones and traces of paint, photo by Travis Fullerton on cultural weekly, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

When seated in a relaxed manner he normally holds the vajra sceptre (missing here) over his raised knee. On this example, his hat is topped with an inverted lotus flower supporting a half vajra topped with three vulture feathers and flowing ribbons.

18th century, Tibet, metal (gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

13th-14th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, ivory, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

Guru Rinpoche flanked by Mandarava, to his right, who holds a long-life vase in her left hand, and Yeshe Tsogyal, to his left, who holds a skull cup in her right hand.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (7)

16th century, (Tibet? China?), Vajrapani, gilt bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Bonhams, London .

17th-18th century, Central Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with gemstones and pigments, photo on  VMFA (USA).

18th century, Central Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with traces of paint, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

Chanda Vajrapani always has one head and two hands. He wields a vajra sceptre in his right hand and has a lasso in the other, usually placed before his heart and making a wrathful gesture. He normally stands on a victim on a bed of snakes.

Circa 13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with polychromy, private collection, photo on Indian Heritage.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy (with stone inlay), private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with traces of gilding, coral and rock crystal inlay, private collection, photo on Auctionata .

Nilamba/Nilambadhara Vajrapani has the same morphology but he always holds a bell in his left hand. He normally stands on one or two victims.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Mahachakra (or Nilambara?) Vajrapani and consort, gilt and polychrome zitan (red sandalwood), private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

Unlike the mahacakra form, which has 3 to 4 heads and 4 or 6 arms, the above looks like nilambara Vajrapani, but accompanied by his consort, who holds a skull cup full of blood and a flaying knife.

Tibet, Maitreya – various postures (6)

12th-13th century, Tibet or Western Himalayas, Maitreya, bronze with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

Unique in its kind, this early sculpture of bodhisattva Maitreya (identified by the large stupa at the front of his crown) depicts him seated with his right leg pendent, atop a lotus seat now lost, his serene and harmonious Tibetan facial features enhanced by large floral earrings and flowing ribbons, his urna, sacred thread, and necklace inlaid with silver in the Pala Indian fashion. 

He wears a Nepalese-style sash drawn tightly across his chest, a long dhoti, both decorated with a stippled and incised pattern – a practice associated with Western Tibet – and a scarf or sash passing over his left arm. There is an non-identified object in his right hand, and he may have had an other attribute in the left one.

14th century, Tibet, Maitreya, (copper alloy with coral inlay), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

Maitreya seated with his legs locked, his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, flanked by blue lotuses, one of them supporting a ritual water pot (kundika). His Pala-style chignon is barely visible behind the tall five-leaf crown with rosettes and ribbons so typical of a group of 13th and 14th century Tibetan non-gilt brass works that feature elegant figures with a bodhisattva appearance.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

When seated, Maitreya may make the fear-allaying gesture with his right hand while the left one is in the meditation gesture or holds a champaka flower or branch.

14th-15th c., Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s as before, lot 325.

The ritual water pot is sometimes placed to his right

15th century, Tibet, Tsang province atelier, Maitreya, silver (on a separate copper alloy base and with gilt and turquoise-inlaid parts), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

This rare silver one has a stupa finial on his chignon.

16th century, Tibet, Sonam Gyaltsen & atelier, Maitreya, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

Maitreya seated with both legs pendent, his feet placed on a large lotus atop the platform that supports his throne. When in this posture, he often has an elongated trunk, and particularly so in this case. His face is painted with cold gold and pigments.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt metal with stone inlay, private collection, photo on HAR.

Maitreya standing, his right hand in the gesture of debate (tip of the forefinger on the tip of the thumb), his left hand held down palm out in the gesture of supreme generosity. The lotus to his left supports a kundika.

 

Tibet, medicine buddha (13)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

A rare and early brass work depicting the main medicine buddha, identified by the arura fruit held between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, seated on a single lotus atop a throne supported by two snow lions and decorated with an upright vajra sceptre at the front. Part of his tight-fitting sanghati covers the right shoulder, an early feature that reappears in Tibet around the 16th century, and there are two pieces of fabric on the other shoulder.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru? (labelled ‘Shakyamuni’), wood with traces of cold gold, Chinese lotus base, private collection, photo on Tajan .

A rare wooden sculpture of a buddha with his right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity and the other in the gesture of meditation to support a bowl. We have not yet come across any sculpture of the historical buddha depicted this way, and it could be Bhaisajyaguru, an arura fruit or branch now missing from his right hand.