Tibet, Manjushri – various forms (9)

12th century, Tibet, Manjushri, painted wood, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A very old and well preserved wooden sculpture of a peaceful bodhisattva flanked by blue lotuses, each supporting a manuscript. His right hand does the gesture to bestow refuge but with the forefinger and the middle finger twisted.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Dharmasankha Samadhi Manjushri, brass, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Until now we have only seen one other Tibetan sculpture depicting this rare form of White Manjushri seated in the vajra position with both hands in the gesture of meditation. He is flanked by blue lotuses supporting a manuscript to his right and a half vajra sceptre to his left and wears princely accessories, a long lower garment and a sash across his chest.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, brass with turquoise inlay, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A Pala-style White Manjushri seated in a relaxed manner and leaning on his left arm. This form of the bodhisattva normally does the fear-allaying gesture with his right hand but in this instance his right arm and hand are resting against his raised leg. He holds the stem of a blue lotus supporting a manuscript and the blue lotus on the other side supports the hilt of a sword.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Manjushri (labelled ‘bodhisattva’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9822 lot 114, London.

From the 13th century onwards he is usually depicted with his his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ and flanked by lotuses or with lotuses fastened to his arms, the one to his right supporting the hilt of a sword, the other supporting the Prajnaparamita sutra (either of them barely visible here).

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Arapachana, Manjushri, bronze, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo HAR .

The bodhisattva of wisdom seated on a lotus base with his legs locked, brandishing a sword in his right hand and holding a book in the other, upright and at heart level. He wears a long dhoti, a small tiara and princely jewellery.

15th-16th century (Tibet or Nepal?), Manjushri, gilt bronze, private collection photo on Ethereal .

Namasangiti Manjushri with one head and four arms, seated in the vajra position and holding a sword and a bow in his upper hands, an arrow and a book in the lower ones, the latter before his heart, as described in the sadhanamala tantra.

Unlabelled, (circa 13th century?, Tibet, Namasangiti Manjushri, brass with cold gold and pigment), Seer Photographic Collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

A singular work featuring Manjushri with one head and four arms, his lower right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity, the upper one brandishing a sword, his (rather large) lower left hand clutching the stem of a blue lotus, the remaining hand holding a book before his heart. He is adorned with a crown, princely jewellery and a garland of blue lotuses (utpala).

Tibet, Shri Devi (10)

15th century, Tibet, Densatil, Lhamo, copper alloy, photo by Bruce M. White on Michael Carlos Collection at the Emory University in Atlanta (USA).

This is probably Dorje Rabtenma, who sits on a prostrate kiang, brandishes a sword (of which only the hilt remains) in her right hand and holds a mongoose in her left hand (missing here). She is adorned with a skull crown, a garland of severed heads, snakes and bone jewellery. Around her are 17 deities with a yaksha appearance (9 to her right and 8 to her left), five of them seated on a prostrate kiang like her, a sixth riding a bird, the others seated in a relaxed manner on a lotus, most of them holding a skull cup and a flaying knife (see close up on Himalayan Art Resources ).

18th century, Tibet or Mongolia, Shri Devi, brass with cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Also with 1 head and 2 hands, the popular Magzor Gyalmo rides her mount across a sea of blood, on the surface of which body parts are floating. She sits sideways, using the hide of her son as a saddle, and holds a vajra-tipped sandalwood staff in her right hand and a skull cup full of magical weapons in the other, at heart level. She is further identified by the crescent moon in her hair, the parasol on top of it, and the sun disc over her navel.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, painted stone, private collection, photo on Lot Art  .

Magzor Gyalmo, her skin blue-black, her orange flaming hair topped with a parasol.

18th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, gilt bronze with stones and pigment, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s  .

Magzor Gyalmo, adorned with a skull crown, a garland of severed heads, snakes and bone jewellery, her magical weapons tied with snakes to her kiang: a couple of dice, a bag of disease and a bundle of red curses (under her right foot), a ball of variegated wool (under her left foot), a tally stick i usually attached to her girdle.

15th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, stone with pigments, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Dudsolma, the four-arm form of Palden Lhamo, protectress of Tibet and patron of Lhasa, also sits sideways on a kiang (or a donkey or mule) crossing a sea of blood, using the hide of her dead son as a saddle and displaying her magical weapons. Her attributes vary but always include a skull cup in one of her lower hands. The above holds a sword and a spear in her upper hands, a flaying knife in the lower left hand.

Tibet, lamas and their hats (4)

13th-14th century, Tibet, lama (labelled ‘buddhist monk), brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A singular and remarkable sculpture of a Tibetan teacher dressed in a layman’s clothes (not all lamas are monks) and wearing a cap or a fur hat. The lotus seat is supported by a stepped throne covered with a cloth and decorated with a dharma wheel at the front.

14th century, Tibet, lama, stone with traces of cold gold and red pigment, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

This lama with a pandita hat and the full monastic garb sits on an unusual lotus seat and holds a rosary, twisted in a 8-shape, in both hands. The long lappets of his headgear fall over his shoulders.

17th century, Tibet, Sakya monk, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The lappets are sometimes folded and crossed at the apex. This lama is seated on  two cushions, the lower one decorated with three upright vajra sceptres. He points a vajra sceptre towards his heart.

18th century, Tibet, lamas, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 14259, Paris.

The pandita hat is worn exclusively by monks and its height varies a lot from one sculpture to the other. The character on the left holds a manuscript in his left hand, the other has the stem of a lotus topped with a book and a flaming jewel in his right hand.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The Kagyu hat is tall and semi-circular at the back, folded at the sides, and usually has a symbol on the front part. This teacher has silver-inlaid eyes, copper-inlaid lips, and both metals were used to decorate his hat. There is a vase of longevity in his left hand.

15th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo  here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A singular portrait of a tantric practitioner with a wide gaze, seated on an antelope skin, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other in the gesture of meditation may have supported a book. We can see a yogic belt made of copper across his chest, a bracelet and an armlet on his right arm, a choker round his neck and earrings or earplugs in his ears.

18th century, Tibet, Drukpa Kagyu lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Gallery on issuu .

See more on hats of the Himalayas on Himalayan Art Resources .

Tibet, Karmapas (9)

13th century, Tibet, 1st Karmapa, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This masterpiece depicts Düsum Khyenpa seated on a throne covered with a cloth and decorated with a dharma wheel at the front, his right hand extended in the gesture of supreme generosity, the other may have held a manuscript. He wears the full monastic garb, including a thick woollen meditation cloak, and the distinctive hat worn by karmapas.

16th century, Tibet, 1st Karmapa, painted wood, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

On this later portrait the hierarch does the gesture of calling Earth to witness with his right hand. We can see a summary visvajra symbol at the front of his hat.

14th century, Tibet, karmapa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This unidentified karmapa is seated on a throne supported by lions and yakshas and decorated with a triple gem surrounded with flames (triratna) at the front. His cloak is made of strips of fabric with a lotus pattern also visible on the border of his vest.  Instead of lying flat on the fabric, the sun disc and a crescent moon symbol at the top of this hat have been sculpted separately.

15th century, Tibet, 3rd karmapa, gilt brass, photo same as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Rangjung Dorje, seated in the vajra position, his bare feet showing, his hands placed over his knees.

16th century, Tibet, 3rd karmapa, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The same man, his legs wrapped in his cloak, his (rather large) hands also placed over his knees, his tall hat topped with a lotus bud finial.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, silver, photo on as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Probably designed for a portable shrine, this small image (5 cm tall) depicts a hierarch with a manuscript placed sideways in his left hand. His right hand does an unusual downwards gesture, possibly a variant of the gesture of debate/teaching. Despite the small size, the artist has taken the trouble to sculpt the creases of the vest, the folds of the patched outer garment, the visvajra at the front of the hat and the lotus bud on top of it.

18th century, Tibet, 8th karmapa, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Mikyo Dorje, a manuscript in his left hand.

16th century, Tibet, 9th Karmapa, painted wood, photo and location as before.

Wangchuk Dorje is seated on a single cusion with a large vajra sceptre motif. There is a manuscript in his left hand.

18th century, Tibet, karmapa, wood, photo as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This elderly man has both hands in the gesture of meditation and may have held a long-life vase or another attribute.

Tibet, snow lions (3)

9th century, Tibet, squatting lion, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

9th century, Tibet, squatting lion, brass, photo as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

These two very old and very rare lions have tenons under their paws, which means that they were fastened to a base or, as suggested by the Museum, that they were perhaps the handle of a larger object. The smooth contours, the elegant curve of the back, the position of the head and the large incised eyes are reminiscent of Scythian art.

15th-16th century, Tibet, snow lion, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This snow lion with a curly mane seems to be crouching by two large lotus flowers.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, snow lion, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 1492 lot 193.

We are more familiar with these plaques featuring a snow lion wearing a collar with a bell, his mane, ears, the end of his tail and the long hair on his legs dyed with blue pigment.

Tibet, mahasiddhas – unidentified (9)

14th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This tantric practitioner with matted hair may have held a vajra sceptre in his right hand. He is adorned with a necklace and wears a long dhoti and a garment barely covering his left shoulder.

15th-16th century (or later?), Tibet, labelled ‘Virupa’, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Origin Expert, 21st July 2013 lot 231.

This Chinese-style work depicts a character with a third eye, flaming hair, a skull crown, silk garments, the upper one with sleeves, bone jewellery and a cross belt, no yogic strap. He wields a vajra sceptre in his right hand and holds a skull cup before his heart (none of which corresponds to standard images of Virupa).

16th century, Tibet, labelled ‘Mahasiddha Virupa’, gilt bronze with sliver, coral and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Galerie Zacke .

A completely different style, and singular if indeed it is a portrait of Virupa. His hair is gathered in a small bun, he wears a four-pointed cap reminiscent of early Kashmiri works, a small tiara and some earrings, all of them inlaid with large cabochons, no floral accessories or yogic belt, his hands are in the gesture of meditation.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17457.

This elderly man with an elongated torso and long limbs (typical of 17th century Tibet) is seated with a leg pendant, atop a lotus seat with an elaborate plinth. We have come across several unidentified mahasiddhas with a similar ovoid container next to them. Both the base and the lid have the shape of a lotus flower.

Tibet, Virupa – variants (6)

15th century, Tibet, Virupa, copper (alloy), is or was at Triksé Monastery, photo by Chiara Bellini in Treasures from the Neighbouring Kingdoms.

Mahasiddha Virupa is seated on an antelope skin atop a double-lotus base, with his legs crossed, his right hand placed on the seat, his left arm raised and pointing towards the sky ‘to stop the course of the Sun’. He is adorned with flowers and has a meditation strap around both knees. We saw a similar sculpture on Himalayan Art Resources and another from Bonhams, both with a single lotus base.

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Alternatively he may be seated in a relaxed manner and raise the left or the right hand while holding a skull cup before his heart with the other. The above has a manuscript inside his topknot and wears plain hoops, bangles and an assorted necklace; he has thick eyebrows, a thin moustache and a beard and he looks sideway.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Indian adept Virupa, brass with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo on Tessier-Sarrou .On this example the antelope skin is clearly visible at the front of the lotus seat, he faces the viewer and wears floral accessories and a beaded cross belt.

16th century, Tibet, Virupa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier ,at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A third way of depicting him is seated with his ankles crossed and his hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture. In this case the single lotus seat is covered with a tiger skin and he has no facial hair (except for a thick unibrow).