Tibet, seated Maitreya (16)

Circa 1300, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper alloy and stones, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

A richly gilt portrait of Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, seated at royal ease with a leg pendant, the foot resting on a lotus springing from the base, a stupa in his headdress, almost certainly made by a Newari artist from the Kathmandu Valley.

14th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze (copper alloy), cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is a more traditional image of the bodhisattva, seated in the vajra position with both hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ and holding the stem of lotuses, one of them supporting a ritual water pot. There is a stupa in his headdress. His Chinese silk garment is decorated with incisions.

15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, same as before.

On this rare image Maitreya’s chignon is topped with a vajra finial and his left hand rests over his knee while holding the stem of a plant that supports a ritual water pot. The right hand is dispelling fear.

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

Apart from the broken lotus which would have supported his waterpot, this is very much like a 15th century sculpture of Maitreya published in a previous post and attributed to a Tsang atelier (Central Tibet).

The eyes are inlaid with silver and there is a flaming jewel on top of his chignon.


Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – standing (12)

Circa 13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Cornette de St Cyr.

Avalokiteshvara, in his padmapani form, holds the stem of a lotus in his left hand and  has an antelope skin over his left shoulder,  knotted across his chest. Instead of doing a symbolic gesture with his right hand as is customary he holds a water pot. This feature is borrowed from Gandharan art, where Maitreya (and sometimes Avalokiteshvara) is often seen holding a water pot by the neck with his left hand.

13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise added later, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

A Pala-style padmapani image with the right hand displaying an embossed lotus within an incised diamond.

The artist has given him the pointed nose and stern gaze typical of Pala art, and a squarish face proper to Tibetan works. We may deduce that this sculpture was made by an Indian artists for a Tibetan patron.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara (labelled Manjushri), brass, is or was at the Lima Lakhang in Lhasa (Tibet), published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This padpamani wears a three-tiered garment inlaid with copper and silver roundels. There is an antelope skin over his left shoulders, with the legs knotted on the other side rather than at the front. The face is painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair is dyed with lapis lazuli powder.

17th-18th c., Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Arthur Millner.


Western Himalayas, various bodhisattvas

13th century, Western Himalayas, Vajrapani, brass, is or was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Standing on a stepped plinth derived from a Kashmiri design, Vajrapani holds a thunderbolt sceptre horizontally in his right hand, the other is placed on his hip. He wears a dhoti shorter on one side and has large knee caps as in Western Tibet. His eyes are slit horizontally in the style of Himachal Pradesh. The nimbus is incised with flames, the rest of the back plate is plain.

13th-14th century, Western Himalayas, Vajrapani, brass, private collection, on Himalayan Art Resources.

Another mixed-style Vajrapani, with a coiffure very similar to that of an Himachal Pradesh Avalokiteshvara seen in a previous post. He wears a long garland and a short dhoti decorated with a stippled motif between stripes. The  flaming arch is topped with a finial.

12th century circa, Western Himalayas, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The character at the centre of this Pala-style triad is Manjushri, easy to identify through his sword and his blue lotus topped with a manuscript (the Prajnaparamita sutra). His attendants (smaller in size) are Vajrapani, who holds an upright vajra in his right hand and has his left hand against his hip, and, on the other side, Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, who holds a lotus as usual but also a water pot in the Gandharan fashion.

Undated, Kashmir or Western Himalayas, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.


Western Himalayas, various deities

11th century circa, Western Himalayas, Kurukulla, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is a rare example of Kurukulla with three heads and six hands (she normally has one head and 2, 4 or 8 hands), seated on a lotus supported by wrathful characters, dressed in a Kashmiri tunic with a crescent moon lower hem that  offsets her cruciform navel. She wears a Himachal Pradesh-style scarf and a crown with triangular panels typical of Ladakh. She holds a bow and an arrow in her upper hands, a vajra and a noose in the middle ones. Her lower right hand displays the gesture of supreme generosity, the lower right hand may have held a hook o the stem of a lotus.

The arch behind her is engraved with U-shaped flames often seen on back plates attributed to Jammu and Kashmir.

14th century, Himalayan, Yellow Jambhala and consort, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Metal sculptures of Yellow Jambhala with his consort are also rarely seen. The above has three heads and six hands, in his right ones he holds an arrow, a hook (elephant goad) and a citron. On the other side there is another fruit, a (broken) bow and the hand which holds the consort also holds a mongoose disgorging jewels.

Traditionally he has a lasso in one hand instead of two citrons. She holds a small vessel and a ritual pot. His crown and hair band are decorated with incisions typical of Western Tibet.

15th century, Western Himalayas, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

This brassy sculpture depicts the bodhisattva  with Tibetan facial features, floral crown and jewellery, wearing a Chinese-style lower garment and shawl with serpentine ends, seated on a thick cushion over a lotus base with a single row of unusual petals resembling the footprints of a deer, the upper and lower rim without beading. The shape and proportions of the back plate are typical of earlier works from Kashmir, while the cut out foliage on the inner row shows an influence from Nepal. The treatment of the flames is singular.




Tibet, Bhurkumkuta (2)

14th century, Tibet, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Bhurkumkuta, with three heads topped with a vajra finial and six hands, holds a double thunderbolt sceptre (visvajra) in his upper right hand. His other attributes vary. The above has an upturned vajra-handled bell in his lower left hand.

Undated (15th century circa?), Tibet probably, gilt metal with turquoise inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Like most wrathful deities, he wears a tiger-skin dhoti and snake ornaments, complemented here with turquoise inlaid foliate jewellery. Standard attributes may be a visvajra, a vajra, a hook, a stick and a lasso. This one holds the visvajra and a vajra-handled bell (ghanta) in his upper hands, an 8-spoke wheel and a missing object in the middle ones, a stick (or perhaps a pestle) and a lasso in the lower ones.

Undated (18th century circa), Tibet, Bhurkumkuta, private collection, same as before.


Tibet, Chakrasamvara – various forms (3)

17th century, Tibet, White Chakrasamvara (labelled Amitayus), gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (USA).

Rarely seen in sculpture, the white form of Chakrasamvara has one head with three eyes, two hands, two legs, and is always seated with the consort (on paintings they may be standing).  She holds two skull cups and he holds two long-life vases.

16th century, Southern Tibet or Nepal, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

This rare works depicts another form, with one head and four arms, standing with his consort, her legs wrapped around his waist. He holds a drum and a ritual staff in the upper hands, a vajra sceptre and a bell in the main ones across her back. Vajrayogini wears an intricate bone apron fastened with a belt with raining jewels and a garland of skulls. He wears a long garland of severed heads around his neck.

Undated, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy, at the Tibet House museum in New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A very similar image, possibly from the same period and which may also have had a tall plinth below.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This Densatil-style sculpture depicts him with four heads and six hands. The upper ones hold the legs of an elephant (whose hide he usually wears across his back), the middle ones hold a bell and what looks like a noose (although one would expect a thunderbolt sceptre), the remaining hands hold a drum and a skull cup.

Undated (16th century circa), Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt metal, at a mountain sanctuary, published on Himalayan Art Rsources.

Most sculptures of Chakrasamvara depict him in his four-head and twelve-hand form, with Vajrayogini, his feet over two victims and holding a series of attributes discussed in previous posts. She may have one or both legs around his waist.

Tibet, Chakrasamvara – Sahaja Heruka (4)

Late 15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper with pigment and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This form of the deity has one head and two arms and stands with the consort, Vajrayogini, their legs in the same position (as in the Newar tradition).

His hair is tied in a chignon topped with a wish-granting jewel and he usually has a visvajra and a crescent moon in his headdress.

She holds a skull cup and a flaying knife, and wears a leopard skin loin cloth and a garland of skulls; he wears a tiger skin and a garland of freshly severed heads and holds a vajra sceptre and a bell across her back.

Undated, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, copper alloy with pigment and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this more archaic work the low skull-tiara reveals a large visvajra in his headdress and a small crescent moon to his left-hand side.

16th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

His consort has both legs around his waist, a Tibetan variant attributed to the teachings of various Mahasiddhas such as Luipa and Maitripa (as explained by John C. Huntington and Dina Bangdel in The Circle of Bliss, Serindia Publications, Chicago, 2003).

Between the 15th and 17th century it is not uncommon for deities, whether seated or standing, to have billowing scarves forming an arch around them.

Undated (16th-17th century?), Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt metal and pigment, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.