Tibet, seated Maitreya – with legs pendent (3)

12th century, Tibet, Maitreya, bronze (brass, traces of cold gold on the skin), private collection, photo on Apsarah 

Maitreya is depicted as the future buddha, his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, his legs pendent, the feet placed on a single lotus fastened to the plinth. When seated this way he may hold a champaka flower or a branch from a champaka/naga tree.

15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze with turquoise, private collection, photo on Beaussant-Lefèvre   .The corners of this throne are decorated with diamond symbols inlaid with turquoise.

16th century, (Tibeto-Chinese?), Maitreya, copper with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo on Ethereal.

Maitreya’s garments and his throne are decorated with various stippled and incised motifs. His feet rest on a projecting platform embellished with large turquoise-inlaid flowers at the front.

16th century, Tibet, Maitreya, bronze with cold gold and turquoise, private collection, photo on Art d’Asie, Christie’s.

Some wheels of dharma incised at the front of this throne are showing on each side of the voluminous folds of Maitreya’s garments. The platform below is decorated with a chased rice-grain and floral pattern and the plinth has a lotus bud in each corner.

16th-17th c., Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, holding the stem of flowers that support a wheel (to his right) and a ritual water pot (to his left). He wears Chinese-style accessories including delicate beaded necklaces, large wheel and floral pendant earrings, matching armbands and bracelets.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Maitreya, copper alloy with cold gold and turquoise, photo on Millon.

Maitreya with a stupa finial on his chignon and a ritual pot on the blue lotus to his left.


Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani (14)

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736 China 4.

Chanda Vajrapani, brandishing a vajra sceptre in his right hand and doing a threatening gesture with the other while holding a (missing) lasso, adorned partly with snakes and partly with princely accessories including a five-leaf crown.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (brass), private collection, on Christie’s

14th century, Tibet (or later copy?), Vajrapani, gilt bronze with cold gold and pigment, private collection?, photo on GG-ART

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, published in ‘The Buddhist Deity Vajrapani’ by Gouriswar Bhattacharya on Academia.eduThis one wears a tripartite crown with a large floral design and wide bows, bulky jewellery, a sacred cord, small snakes around his wrists and ankles.

16th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Shirley Day Ltd, same publication as before.

The author of the article points out that on this image Vajrapani has one foot on a snake and the other on a human victim. Also, the long snake used as a sacred thread goes over his right shoulder (on early works it is usually over the left shoulder but on the first picture and on the next one it is also worn over the right shoulder). Among his princely jewellery we will note the cross-belt with a central flower and ‘raining-jewel’ pendants.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy and pigments, photo by Capriaquar on Academia Edu .

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled Mahakala), bronze with traces of lacquer and pigment, private collection, photo by Beaussant-Lefèvre, Arts d’Asie 2016.

Late Tibetan sculptures of wrathful deities are often in the Chinese style, with a much fiercer look, bushy eyebrows, pointed fingers and toes, sharp flaming hair, a flat scarf with serpentine ends, and the tail of the tiger skin dangling at the front.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Eddie’s Auction

Wrathful Vajrapani with a tripartite hair bunch – see the new page in the ‘comparing works’ section of this blog in the left-hand margin-  and a bell in his left hand.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy with pigment), private collection, photo on Artcurial .

Vajrapani with an upturned bell in his left hand, crushing a single victim with a human appearance.

Nepal, wooden Tara

14th century, Nepal, Tara, polychrome wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Many polychrome wooden figures were made in the Kathmandu Valley during the Malla period, including various forms of Tara. She is often bare-bosomed and wears a long lower garment with bands of red and yellow cloth with a black motif, and a cloth belt. On most early Malla works her smooth black hair is combed back and her only item of jewellery is a pair of wheel-like earrings. When her right hand does the fear-allaying gesture its palm is painted red.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Tara, polychrome wood, private collection, photo on Jean Gauchet .

An example with a five-leaf crown with rosettes and ribbons.

15th century, Nepal, Tara, wood with polychromy, private collection, photo on Huntington Archive  .

From the same atelier as a Brhkuti Devi seen previously, this Tara also wears a sash.

16th century, Nepal, Tara, polychrome wood, private collection?, photo on WRA

During the later part of the Malla period (16th-18th century) her accessories usually include  a crown, a short V-shaped necklace and a long string of beads, armbands, bracelets and anklets. This figure and the next one hold the stem of a blue lotus in each hand.

17th century, Nepal, Tara, wood, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA) photo on Art summary.

She sometimes wear a tight-fitting bodice.

16th century, Nepal, Tara, wood with traces of polychromy, at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, photo by Daderot on  Commons Wikimedia 

17th-18th century, Nepal, Tara, polychrome wood, private collection, photo on Bonhams.

A Chinese-style version with a silk scarf or shawl, a belt with a large floral motif, the right hand doing the gesture of debate, the other bestowing refuge.

17th-18th century or earlier, Nepal, possibly Syamatara (Green Tara), wood, private collection, photo on Lempertz .

Nepal, Manjushri (2)

10th century, Nepal, Manjushri, stone, in Kathmandu (Nepal), photo in the Purandi Hoard, Mary Sheperd Slusser, on jstor .

This image, known as Manjunatha, depicts the infant Manjushri wearing a delicately incised mitre-like crown, floral jewellery and a short garment held in place with a cloth belt.

15th-16th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Bukowski

White Manjushri, his hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture while holding the stem of lotuses that support the hilt of a sword to his right and a book (the Prajnaparamita sutra) to his left.

13th-14th century possibly, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Uppsala

Manjushri brandishing a sword in his right hand and holding the stem of a blue lotus that supports his book.

Late 13th century, Nepalo-Chinese, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with (replacement) glass inlay, private collection, photo and article on Robert Bigler .

Namasangiti Manjushri with one head and four arms, his main hands holding a sword curiously placed next to his temple and a book pressed against his heart, the other hands holding a bow and an arrow now missing, a combination identified as tikshna Manjushri by the author of the article. Indications that this piece was made in China are the crown with leaves set wide apart, the stirrup design of the necklace and belt, the curly tip of the petals on the base, the closed slanted eyes, while the helmet on his head and the ring on his finger(s) are the signature of a Newari artist. We saw this item in the Tibetan section of the blog because it was labelled ‘Tibet or Nepal’ by Bonhams and ‘Tibet’ on HAR (on the Bonhams/HAR photo there is no glass replacement).

16th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on mutualart

Presumably a non-tantric form of dharmadatu vagisvajra, this deity has six heads plus a buddha’s head (Akshobhya or Amitabha’s), two legs and 12 hands. The main ones do the dharmacakra mudra,  the remaining right hands hold a sword, a triple lotus stalk (tridanda), an elephant goad, a broken arrow. On  the other side there is a night lotus, a day lotus, a noose and a bow. The lower right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity, the lower left probably held a book.

18th century, Nepal, Namasangiti Manjushri, gilt bronze and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt .

A late example of the Mayajala tantra form of Manjushri, with one head and twelve hands, specific to Nepal. There is a half-vajra finial on his chignon and Kirtimukha at the front of his crown.The top hands are held above the head with two fingers folded, the middle and forefinger touching at the tip and one thumbs pressed against the other, to symbolise Mount Meru and Vajrasattva. The two pairs of hands at shoulder level do the gesture of debate and normally hold various implements including a book. The main hands held palm out before his chest symbolise Vairocana, the above display a lotus within a diamond embossed on each palm. The hands below are held down to sprinkle ambrosia into the bowl below. The lower hands do the meditation gesture and support the bowl.

18th century, Nepal, Dharmadhatu Vagisvajra, gilt metal, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai (India), photo by Anandajoti Bhikkhu  on Photodharma .

In Nepal, this form of Manjushri with four heads and six to eight hands often has his consort seated on his left thigh. On this example his main hands do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, in which case the upper right hand would normally hold a sword, not a rosary. The middle hands hold a bow and an arrow, the upper left hand holds a manuscript, the lower hands are supposed to hold a vajra sceptre and a bell (not visible here).

Nepal, Various female deities (2)

11th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt copper alloy with traces of pigment, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Vasudhara in her popular one-head and six-arm form, with raining jewels and a sheaf of grain in her middle hands (from left to right), a fruit and a long-life vase in the lower ones. The top right hand is held at ear level to accompany music but also holds a vajra sceptre – not normally associated with her. Her top left hand holds at a slant an open flower supporting her book topped with a pearl.


13th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Adorned with stone-inlaid jewellery and displaying Kirtimukha in her headdress, this Vasudhara holds the book vertically in her top left hand.

15th century, Nepal, Prajnaparamita, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller, sale A189AS

Prajnaparamita in her one-head and four-hand form, her main hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, the others holding a rosary and a book.

17th century, Nepal, Prajnaparamita, metal, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai, photo by Anadajoti Bhikkhu on Photodharma   


17th century, Nepal, identification uncertain (labelled ‘Ushnishavijaya’), sandstone, private collection, photo by Christie’s on artkhade.

In her three-head form Ushnishavijaya may have 2 or 8 hands. The above has three heads and four hands (an unusual combination), in which she holds a sword and a lasso at the top, an elephant goad and a lotus at the bottom.

16th century, Nepal, Pratisara? (labelled ‘Pancha Raksha deity’), sandstone, private collection, photo by Christie’s on Artkhade.

This may be Pratisara, who holds a vajra sceptre in her lower right hand, a bow and an arrow in two of her other hands, in which case the remaining implements are a sword and a sling, a wheel and a yak tail fan or an axe.

17th century, Nepal, unidentified (labelled ‘Prajnaparamita’), gilt copper, private collection, photo on artkhade

A three-head and six-hand female deity with her main hands crossed over her heart, possibly holding a vajra sceptre and a bell. She has a sword in her top right hand and a skull cup in the lower one, a lotus and a visvajra in her left hands, the latter associated with Ushnishavijaya, who never holds a sword (nor does Prajnaparamita) or a skull cup and whose three-head form has eight arms.

17th century, Nepal, Vajravarahi, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

No possible mistake with Vajravarahi, who has the head of a sow attached to her right temple. She stands in a dancing posture over a victim, wielding a flaying knife and holding a skull cup before her hear, facing the viewer.

Nepal, mythical creatures


16th-17th century, Nepal, nagaraja (labelled ‘bodhisattva’), copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This fragment from the top of a prabhamandala depicts a naga king with four arms, half crouching and half kneeling, his lower left hand grabbing the foot of a garuda that would have been at the apex, his upper right hand brandishing a solar wheel. As is often the case, the remaining lower hand is placed on his knee. His naga hood is missing.

16th century, Nepal, makaras and nagaraja, gilt copper repoussé with traces of red pigment, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

This one (placed at the wrong angle) only has two arms. His left hand clutches a garuda’s leg, the right one wields a (missing) solar wheel. The makaras go right below on the arch.

15th century, Nepal, kinnara, gilt copper, private collection, photo on Artkhade .

In Himalayan art, these celestial musicians usually have the upper body of a human and the lower body of a bird, with webbed feet or with claws.

17th century, Nepal, apsara, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt

These celestial female dancers, on the other hand, have a human body and wings.

Circa 18th century, Nepal, garuda, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo on  Leonard Joel .

Garudas have the legs, wings and head of an eagle (with horns), the arms and torso of a human, and hold a long snake (naga) in their hands and beak.

16th century, Nepal, Chepu, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo on Robyn Buntin

Known as Chepu in Nepal, where he is particularly worshipped, Kirtimukha often decorates the top of toranas and the front of crowns made by Newari artists. He only has a face and two hands, in which he holds vegetation that comes out of his mouth. On Nepalese backplates he often holds a long snake too.

Tibet, Mahasiddha Damarupa (3)

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mustang, Damarupa, papier mâché, is or was at the Namgyal monastery, photo by Christian Luczanits on soas

Damarupa holds a drum high up in his right hand and a skull cup in the other. His topknot is held in place with a red ribbon, matching the colour of his loin cloth. His sole ornaments are earplugs.

Undated (circa 16th century?), Tibet, Tsang province, Damarupa, copper alloy, private collection, photo on HAR  

Here the Indian tantric adept is depicted with fleshy fingers and toes, thick curly facial hair and a severe expression. He is adorned with bone jewellery and a cross-belt with a floral design at the front.

Undated (15th or 16th century?), Tibet, Damarupa, brass with pigments, published in Grandes Lamas del Tibet, photo on HAR

The floral jewellery and garland worn by some mahasiddhas is an anti-caste symbol. On this masterpiece his loin cloth is decorated with a large chased floral print.