Tibet, Achala – various forms (4)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Achala, bronze, private collection, photo on Nagel Blue Achala may have a fierce yaksha appearance with wrathful ornaments…

Unlabelled (circa 15th century?, Tibet, Achala, gilt copper or copper alloy with turquoise) private collection, photo on HAR  

… or a human one (with a third eye) and princely accessories. He may be kneeling on one knee (often the left one in Tibet, the right one in Nepal), in which case there is no victim under him.

Unlabelled (Tibet probably, Achala, brass), private collection, photo on HAR 

Or he may be standing on Ganapati or on 2 victims. He normally bites his lower lip with his upper fangs, as can be clearly seen on this example. We will note the skimpy and tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth (see the page on Wrathful Deities in the left hand side of this blog).

15th century, Tibet, Achala, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, on Hardt (p. 41).The victims are not depicted here.

Undated, Tibet, Achala, metal with cold gold and pigment, at the American Museum of National History in New York (USA).

A singular Achala with the effigy of a buddha (likely to be Akshobhya) on top of his flaming hair, standing on two victims atop a 12th or 13th century-style lotus base, brandishing a sword in his right hand and holding a (missing) lasso slightly away from him, instead of before his heart as would be expected. He is adorned with snakes including a long one across his chest worn as a sacred cord.

16th century, Tibet, Achala and consort, stone, private collection, photo by Holly’s International.Chandamaharoshana Achala with one head and two hands, in which he holds a sword and a noose, half kneeling and half crouching, in embrace with his consort, who has both legs around his waist and holds a skull cup and a flaying knife. The above has a human appearance and wears princely accessories.

18th century, Tibet, Achala and Dveshavajri, copper alloy, collection of the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami (USA), photo on Bridgeman

This one has a  fierce yaksha appearance and is adorned with snakes. His consort wears bone ornaments.


Tibet, Mahakala – Shadbhuja (10)

12th-14th century, Tibet, Mahakala, black chlorite, private collection, photo on Aguttes , Arts d’Asie 11th December 2017.

A rare stone stele of Mahakala with six arms, standing with his legs apart, treading on Ganapati and holding a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands. There is a rosary of skulls in his top right hand and a lasso in his lower left hand, the upper right hand would have held a trident or a ritual staff, the lower right hand held a drum. This form of shadbhuja Mahakala has a blue body on paintings.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Mahakala, clay, private collection, photo on Aguttes as before.

An unusual clay example with Ganapati seated in an awkward position, facing the viewer and holding his right hand palm out. Mahakala stands in a fighting posture and has a ritual staff in his upper left hand.

17th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on  Navin Kumar .

A Chinese-style image of him standing straight, adorned with a celestial scarf with serpentine ends, dressed in a long lower garment made of two layers of fine cloth with a lacy edge, topped with a tiger skin knotted at the front.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, Mahakala, bronze with pigments, Science Museum Group Collection (UK), photo here .

We get a clearer picture of four of the attributes here and we can see that the upper hands also hold an elephant hide stretched across his back and that he is adorned with a garland of severed heads, a five-skull crown and some jewellery. Ganapati holds a skull cup in his right hand.

18th century, Tibet, Shadbhuja Mahakala, gilt bronze with polychromy, private collection, photo on Tajan , Art d’Asie, 11th June 2018.

On this late Chinese-style work his tiger skin loin cloth is worn with the tail of the animal reaching the base (see the “tiger-skin loin cloth” subsection of the page on Wrathful Deities in the left-hand side of this blog).

Tibet, Amitabha (4)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Amitabha, gilt bronze with pigments, private collection, photo by Polyauction.

Amitabha sits in the vajra position, his hands cupped to hold a bowl.

15th century, Tibet, Amitabha, copper fusion (alloy) with traces of polychromy, private collection, photo by Florence Number Nine, 2013.

An example with painted facial features.

15th century, Tibet, Amitabha, gilt bronze, at the National Gallery in Prague (Czech Republic).

Occasionally he holds a long-life vase (not necessarily the original attribute) normally associated with his other aspect, Amitayus, who has a princely appearance.

16th century, Tibet, Amitabha, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Tibet, Naga Kings (5)

14th century, Tibet, Nagaraja, wood with traces of lacquer, private collection, photo on Aguttes

Coiffed with a five-naga hood, this naga king holds a vajra-handled banner with both hands.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Naga Kings (labelled ‘dragons’), gilt copper, private collection, photo on Hanhai Auction  .

14th-15th century, Tibet, Naga Kings (labelled ‘dragons’), gilt copper, private collection, photo by Hanhai Auction, as above.

Nepalese-style naga kings featured on arches/backplates usually hold a dharma wheel at head level in one of their hands. These two have a hood made of three cobra snakes.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Nagaraja, gilt copper repoussé, rock crystal, private collection, photo on Christie’s

A four-armed variant, holding the claw of a (missing) garuda in one of his right hands and a solar wheel with a large rock crystal cabochon in the upper left hand, a sword likely missing from his lower left hand. No identification as to the object in his lower right hand so far.

He has a seven-cobra hood and is adorned with princely jewellery, including floral earrings inlaid with turquoise and coral and a crown with a wheel at the front.

Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – four arms (23)

13th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on Bonhams .

An early brass sculpture of the most popular four-arm form of Avalokiteshvara, who holds a wish-granting gem at heart level in his main hands, a rosary and a lotus (or lotus bud in this case) in the others.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips, traces of cold gold, private collection, photo on Van Ham 2016  .

14th-15th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo on Barnebys .

15th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on  Hardt 2019

This one has a large effigy of Amitabha on top of his Indian-style braided chignon.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Koller, sale W245AS.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Drouot, sale 10th October 2017.

The antelope skin over his left shoulder is not specific to this form of Avalokiteshvara but appears from time to time. The above has Kirtimukha at the front of his crown.

Tibet, Jambhala – various forms (4)

13th-14th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt

Black Jambhala, standing on Ganapati, a mongoose in his left hand and a skull cup in the other.

18th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala (labelled ‘Green Jambhala), stone, private collection, photo on AguttesIn most cases he holds the animal head down so that it disgorges jewels onto the base.

18th century, Tibet, (Black) Jambhala, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt 

Naked, ithyphallic and always adorned with snakes, he is also known as Dimbla or Ucchusma Jambhala. Instead of crushing the elephant-headed deity he may stand on a human victim, neither of which appear on this more recent work.

Unlabelled (Tibet?, brass with silver eyes and copper lips and hem), private collection, photo on HAR  

White Jambhala may ride a dragon sideways and hold a jewel-spitting mongoose under his left arm, in which case his right hand would wield a sword or hold a stick (missing here).

17th century, Tibet, Jambhala, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Casa d’Aste

He may also mount a snow lion but when he holds a mongoose in his left hand he normally has a sword in the other.

18th century, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo on LeclèreYellow Jambhala, with a peaceful yaksha appearance, seated at ease on a throne covered with a cloth, holding his mongoose in his left hand and a citron in the other.

18th century, Tibet, Jambhala, silver with turquoise inlay on a gilt copper alloy base, private collection, photo on HardtHe often has his right foot on a vase of abundance attached to the base.

Tibet, crowned Shakyamuni – seated (7)

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Ravenel.

The historical buddha wearing a five-leaf crown tied with long ribbons and decorated with large rosettes, no earrings or necklace,  dressed in a sanghati with an incised hem, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other cupped in the gesture of meditation.

Undated, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 71797.

A similar depiction, with a small vajra sceptre before him half embedded in the lotus base.

Mid 15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze with turquoise and lapis lazuli, at the Toledo Museum in Ohio (USA).

On quite a few of these broad-shouldered Nepalese-style sculptures produced during the 14th and 15th century approximatley, the buddha has a tear-shaped urna on his forehead and wears a minimal tiara, consisting in a head band, plain or with a chased pattern, side rosettes and a central decoration or several stone cabochons.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni (labelled ‘Amitabha’), bronze, private collection, photo by Henry’s Auktionshaus.

The historical buddha, crowned and holding a begging bowl in both hands.