Tibet, Karmapas (6)

14th century, Tibet, karmapa, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

This endearing figure is coiffed with the lotus hat worn by Karma Kagyu hierarchs, traditionally black and decorated with a visvajra (or a lozenge representing a visvajra) on the front panel, and clouds at the side. The border of his monastic garments is incised with a wavy pattern.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, copper with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Tessier Sarrou.

To confuse the issue, this character wears a red lotus hat associated with other hierarchs (such as shamarpas and situpas) and traditionally decorated with jewels at the front, but his displays a visvajra.

17th-18th century, Tibet, labelled ‘possibly the first karmapa’, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Castor Hara.

The first five karmapas are thought to have worn a small black cap before the black lotus hat became their headdress (see the Himalayan Art Resources page on Hats of the Himalayas). This personage wears an ornate foliate crown with rosettes and ribbons, a half-vajra finial on top of his head, beaded jewellery and a ritual apron over his ample silk garments. He holds a vajra and ghanta crossed over his heart. The sculpture probably depicts him performing a ritual ceremony.

 

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Tibet, Vajrakila (2)

12th century, Tibet, Vajrakila (labelled Samvara with consort), brass with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Originally published as Chakrasamvara, this deity with four heads, each with three eyes, six arms and 4 legs is in fact Vajrakila (and labelled as such on the Himalayan Art Resources website).

He is adorned with snakes, a foliate tiara on each head, large hoops on the main one, his flaming hair is gathered in a bunch and decorated with small buddhas. His main hands are cupped to hold what was should be a kila, his other right hands hold a nine-prong vajra and a five-prong vajra…

… the left ones hold a trident and some flames, all of which correspond to Vajrakila.

He wears a garland of severed heads, they tread on two victims. Diptachakra has one head and two hands, in which she holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrakila, gilt copper alloy with stones and pigments, private collection, photo by Pundoles.

On this image two of his attributes are missing but the kila peg is visible between his main hands.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrakila and consort, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This heruka always has four legs (or a kila instead of legs),  the main left leg is always extended, the other is bent, the secondary legs are often smaller and dangling onto the lotus base.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrakila and consort, copper alloy, published in the Realm of Tibetan Buddhism, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

In the texts he is described as having a vajra finial on his chignon.

 

 

Tibet, Shakyamuni – seated (16)

16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The historical buddha is surrounded by five figures, probably the five tathagatas. He holds a begging bowl in his left hand and touches the earth with the other.

Undated (circa 13th century?), Tibet, Shakaymuni, at a mountain sanctuary, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

This brass sculpture with a copper-inlaid hem and a tall double-lotus base with plump petals belongs to a group of early Tibetan Pala-style works with very harmonious lines and proportions.

The buddha’s chignon is topped with a rare flaming finial indicating the moment of enlightenment. His eyes and urna are inlaid with silver and his lips with copper.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

This figure, complete with begging bowl, sits on a rare double lotus base topped with a row of stamens, no beading, the two levels separated by a plain band in the middle. The buddha himself as an unusually elongated chignon topped with a large lotus bud finial. The hem of his sanghati is decorated with an incised geometrical pattern.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Here there is a vajra sceptre in front of him  on the base (and a bowl in his left hand).

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper, is or was at the Jokhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This rare work depicts him with a lotus bud under his middle finger.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The iconography is the same for Akshobhya…

but the embossed lotus-like wheels on the sole of his feet identify him as Shakyamuni.

15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Xanadu.

Tibet, Amitayus – bodhisattva appearance (11)

 

MAY LONG-LIFE DEITY AMITAYUS BRING YOU PEACE AND HARMONY!

 

11th century, Tibet, Amitayus, gilt bronze, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This Nepalese-style work depicts Amitayus, who normally has a bodhisattva appearance and holds a long-life vase. He is an aspect of Amitabha, whose mount is the peacock, hence the two peacocks supporting the throne, which is covered with a cloth decorated with a wheel of dharma at the front.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Amitabha (Amitayus), bronze, at the Kyangphu monastery, Shigatse, Tibet photo from the Huntington Archive.

Here, the throne is supported by a seated figure between two peacocks.

Unlike the yakshas that often support thrones, this figure is tall and thin, and his body is decorated with floral roundels on the knees, forearms, elbows and chest.

16th century, Tibet, Amitayus, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Amitayus is always seated in the vajra position, with both hands in the meditation gesture.

17th century, Tibet, Amitayus, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This buddha’s crown, jewellery and long-life vase are inlaid with large cabochons typical of works inspired by late Malla art from Nepal.

18th century, Tibet, Amitayus, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The late Pala-revival style often includes a thin fluttering scarf.

Tibet, various paired deities

15th-16th century, Tibet, Chemchok Heruka with consort, bronze (copper alloy) and cold gold, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Chemchok Heruka is the Tibetan name for a form of Shri Heruka with three heads and six hands, 4 legs and 2 wings. He embraces his consort (who has one head, two arms and two legs) and holds a vajra sceptre in each right hand, a skull cup in each left hand (on paintings he may have different attributes). The faces are painted with cold gold and the hair and eyebrows with red pigment. They are adorned with crowns and princely jewellery inlaid with turquoise. They stand on two victims.

14th century, Tibet, Densatil or Densatil-style, Buddhakapala and Citrasena, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This meditational deity may be alone or with a consort. He has one head with three eyes, four hands, two legs. She has one head, two hands, two legs, one of them around his waist, and is naked. He wears the wrathful ornaments, including a five-skull crown and a garland of 50 severed heads, and holds a skull cup and a flaying knife in his main hands crossed over her back, a drum and a ritual staff in the remaining ones.

14th century, Tibet, Buddhakapala and consort, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

They each stand on a leg over a victim.

She holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

18th century, Tibet, Chitipati, painted terracotta, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Apart from the dancing skeletons seen on bone aprons used for the Cham dance, there is another pair of dancing skeleton known as Chitipati (Shri Shmashana Adhipati in sanskrit). This ‘father and mother’ pair have a frightful skeletal form, with three eyes and protruding fangs. They stand in a dancing posture, are adorned with a skull crown and hold a skull cup and a skull-tipped stick. In some cases, she holds a long-life vase and a stalk of grain on a stick, as above. She wears a garland of skull and he wears a garland of freshly severed heads, as is often the case with paired deities with a wrathful appearance.

17th-18th century, Tibet or Himalayas, Citipati or Kinkara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

For the sake of comparison, this dancing skeleton is unlikely to be part of a Chitipati set since he is alone. Besides, he only has two eyes, isn’t adorned with wrathful ornaments, and his left hand doesn’t seem to have held any attribute. He wears an interesting cape with a cloud pattern, of the sort we have seen on Padmasambhava works of more or less the same period.

 

 

 

 

Tibet, Shakyamuni seated – dharmacakra mudra (2)

13th-15th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The historical buddha is seated on a cushion  atop a singular plinth decorated with three circles at the front, his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, typically with the tip of the forefingers pressed against the thumbs.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The right hand is held at heart level. The position of the left hand varies.

Undated (16th century circa?), Tibet, Shakaymuni, brass with copper inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Instead of the forefinger, the tip of the ring finger may be pressed on the tip of the thumb (either hand).

Various figures with a buddha appearance may do this gesture. The dharma wheels incised or embossed on the soles of his feet help identify him. This buddha’s soles are marked with a stippled pattern also used for lotuses. The hem of his sanghati and his nails are inlaid with copper.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni, gilt clay and pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Undated (circa 18th century), Tibet, Shakyamuni, bronze (brass), private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

 

Tibet, Milarepa (10)

14th century, Tibet, Milarepa, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Many images of Milarepa show him seated at ease, his right hand raised to his ear, the left hand supporting a skull cup. The above holds a long-life vase. He wears the usual loosely wrapped garment, spiral earrings, bracelets and yogic band. We saw a similar image from the Navin Kumar collection on the Himalayan Art Resources website (see link in left margin), reproduced below for comparison, with a added views.

14th century, Tibet, bronze, private collection.

Previously labelled 14th century, it is now labelled 16th century (1500-1599) and attributed to a Tsang province atelier in Central Tibet. Note the floral motif on the strap, sculpted rather than engraved, and the five strands of hair with a rounded edge at the back.

Undated (circa 16th century), Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Milarepa may be seated on an antelope skin placed over the lotus base.

16th century, Tibet, Milarepa, copper alloy with turquoise inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

The position of his right hand varies, sometimes the palm is placed away from his ear.