Tibet, Vajradhara – alone (12)

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Thought to have been made by a Newari artist in Tibet, this rare Licchavi-style image shows Vajradhara with his eyes closed, adorned with large floral earrings and matching tripartite crown, a thin sash drawn tightly across his chest, holding a vajra sceptre and a bell.

14th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper with silver and gems, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

He always hashis hands crossed over his heart, palm inwards, although the attributes may be supported by lotuses next to him.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The vajra sceptre may be placed vertically or horizontally.

15th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze with turquoise, coral, lapiz lazuli, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

He often has a half-vajra finial on his head. The above has a richly incised dhoti worn in the Nepalese fashion, i.e. short enough  to show his shin adornments and his anklets.

15th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This image was erroneously published in a post on Vajrasattva and has since been deleted from it. It is clearly Vajradhara.

15th-16th century, Central Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt bronze (or plain brass?) with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste.

During the 15th and 16th century, workshops in Central Tibet produced many brass sculptures with silver and copper or stone inlay and finely incised Chinese-style silk garments.

 

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Tibet, wrathful females (3)

13th-14th century, Tibet, Kakasya, pyrophillite with remains of cinnabar and other pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Kakasya has a dark blue body and the head of a crow; she appears on mandalas along with another three animal-headed dakinis (owl-headed Ulukasya, dog-headed Svanakasya, sow-headed Sukarasya) each guarding a direction. On paintings she holds a sword and eats lungs and hearts.

The above holds a vajra-handled implement with a diamond-shaped blade in her right hand and a hook (elephant goad) in the other. She has small ears and long hair tied in a chignon, wears a loin cloth, a garland of severed heads and has a human hide over her back.

She stands with both feet on a prostrate figure with a human appearance.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Kakasya, bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste.

This one has lost her attributes; she wears bone jewellery and has a crest on her head.

She is naked and wears her long black hair divided in three strands.

18th century, Tibet, wrathful female, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

It is unusual for a wrathful figure to be adorned with princely accessories.

Originally labelled Sarvabuddhdakini then Vajrayogini, 19th century, Tibet, painted clay, at British Museum in London (UK).

Works made after the 18th century are not normally included in this blog but we saw this character before because of the rarity of the subject. There were some doubts as to her identity since her appearance doesn’t correspond to any form of Vajrayogini. On the Himalayan Art Resources website (Index >Mahakala > Panjaranata > Five activity protectors) She is featured as  Singmo, who holds a gold razor in her right hand, like some dakinis do, and a skull cup in the other.

Same as before, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

A wrathful female protector, emanation of Panjaranata Mahakala and retinue figure, she has a rakshasi (female demon) appearance, wears black garments and breathes flames out. Jeff Watts explains on HAR that the wire that sticks out of her mouth once supported flames. 

1900-1959, Tibet, Ragmo Nujin, painted clay, at the British Museum in London (UK).

There is also photo of her mother, Nagmo Nujin (Kali Rakshasi), who has the same attributes (the razor blade broken here) and is supposed to wear her hair in one braid. According to the British Museum, the first figure came from the Cranmore Ethnographical Museum, which closed in 1939, there is no mention of the other on their website.

18th century, India, Rashasa, published by Wepa UNIMA.

During the research on Singmo (Ekajata Rakshasi in sanskrit), there appeared this Indian puppet of a female with a rakshasi appearancewho seems to hold a razor in her right hand, begging to be added to this post!

Tibet, Mahakala – various forms (2)

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, bronze (brass) with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Mahakala in his panjarnata form, with one head and two hands, in which he holds a skull cup and flaying knife while supporting a danda stick across his arms, squatting on Ganapati, adorned with a garland of severed heads, a snake worn as a sacred thread, snake and bone ornaments, and wearing a tiger skin loin cloth. 

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

In his four-arm (chaturbhuja) form, seated at ease on a lotus base, the main hands holding a skull cup and flaying knife before his heart, the others a flaming sword and another (missing) implement.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction.

When the main hands are at heart level, the upper left hand usually holds a staff with a horizontal vajra sceptre across it, or a trident as above.

18th century, tibet, Mahakala, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste.

Tibetan sculptures of his six-arm (shadbhuja) form are often late Chinese-style ones, with billowing scarf and spiky flaming hair standing on his head, sharp finger tips, bushy eyebrows and beard. In most cases the main hands hold a skull cup and a flaying knife. He wears a tiger skin loin cloth and sometimes an elephant hide over his back.

18th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

His upper hands hold a rosary of skulls and a trident or a staff, the remaining hands hold a drum and noose.

Circa 18th century, Tibet (or Sino-Tibetan?), Mahakala, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

He stands on elephant-headed Ganapati.

15th century (or later?), Tibet, Mahakala, white shadbhuja form, gilt copper with stone inlay, private collection, photo from the Huntington Archive.

In his white form (with a white body on paintings) he stands with his legs straight on two elephant-headed victims, pressing a wish-granting jewel against his heart with his main right hand, the left one sustaining a skull cup with a vase filled with jewels. The remaining right hands hold a flaying knife and a drum, the left hands hold a trident and a hook (elephant goad).

18th century, Tibet, Cintamani Mahakala, parcel-gilt bronze with pigments and turquoise, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The same form (sita cintamani Mahakala = ‘White Mahakala holder of jewels’), with a skull cup full of gems.

17th century, Tibet, Mahakala, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Drouot.

The way he sits suggests that this may be the vyaghra vahana (‘riding a tiger’) form, who holds a skull cup in his left hand and a stick tipped with a jewel (the latter missing here) in the other.

18th century, Tibet, Mahakala (labelled Yama), gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

In his three-head, six-hand, six-leg form all his arms are stretched out. The missing attributes are probably a bow, an arrow, a vajra sceptre, the remaining hands do symbolic gestures.

 

Tibet, Yama Dharmaraja (4)

ALL THE POSTS ON YAMA PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN THE TIBETAN SECTION OF THIS BLOG HAVE BEEN REVISED, AND ERRORS OR IMPRECISIONS HAVE BEEN CORRECTED.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Yama Dharmaraja, copper alloy and pigments, private collection, published on http://www.yaijan518.com

Always without consort, the inner form of Yama Dharmaraja stands on a prostrate male buffalo (usually crushing a male victim) and holds a flaying knife and a skull cup, the latter always held before his heart.

16th century, Tibet, Yama Dharmaraja, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments, stones (missing), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This rare sculpture shows him with his head topped with Manjushri’s (of which he is an emanation) itself topped with a jewel.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Yama and attendants, bronze (copper alloy) with paint, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

He may have a human head and be depicted with buffalo-headed attendants who stand on a prostrate bull, as he usually does. In this instance one of them wields a mace and holds a lasso, like his outer from, the other holds different attributes, possibly a skull cup and a jewel, like his secret form. They all wear a tiara with five skulls, the attendants have a garland of skulls around their neck, he has a garland of severed heads. 

Circa 18th century, Tibet, Yama Dharmaraja, wood with traces of polychromy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Cold gold has been used here to paint Yama Dharmaraja’s facial features and accessories and to highlight his ithyphallic nature.

18th century, Tibet, Yama Dharmaraja, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The outer form of Yama holds both arms straight and has a skull-tipped mace or stick in his right hand and a lasso in the other. He stands on a buffalo who usually crushes a female victim. He is supposed to be with Yami, his sister and consort, but she is often missing, or lost, along with the male buffalo on which they stand. According to Sotheby’s, the above holds a bone trumpet.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Yama and consort, bronze with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste.

18th century, Tibet (or Tibeto-Chinese?), Yama and Yami, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Michaans Auctions.

On late sculptures he usually wears a breast plate with a ‘wheel of the law’ design.

18th century, Tibeto-Chinese, Yama Dharmaraja, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

 

 

 

Tibet, various female deities (4)

12th century, Tibet, female, bronze (copper alloy), Navin Kumar collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

This female deity holds a ritual water pot in both hands and there is another on the plinth of the lotus base, together with a small kneeling figure, possibly the donor.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajratara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Rarely seen in Tibet in the form of sculpture, Vajratara/Vajritara normally has one head with three eyes and 4 to 8 hands, in which she holds a vajra sceptre, a noose, an arrow, a conch shell, in her right hands, a bow, another arrow (or vice-versa), a lotus and a hook (broken here). The above has three heads topped with a vajra finial.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Pancha Raksha deity, gilt metal with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Koller.

Out of the five Pancha Raksha deities, one of them, Pratisara, has eight hands in which she holds most of these attributes but she normally has three heads, this one only has one. Her main hands are ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ and hold the stem of two lotuses; the remaining left hands hold a bow, a stem?, a ritual water pot, the remaining right hands hold an arrow and a wheel, the lower one displays knowledge.

16th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Africasia.

Seated with a leg pendent and her right foot on a lotus, this female character holds a triple gem in her right hand.

Late 16th century, Tibet, Amdo, Sarasvati, painted clay, at the Kumbum of Taer monastery, Xining, published in Empire of Emptiness by Patricia Ann Berger.

Sarasvati, goddess of the arts and speech, with one head and two hands, playing the vina.

 

 

 

 

Tibet, Hevajra (5)

One of the four Guhyasamaja entities, Shri Hevajra has a bodhisattva appearance with a mixture of peaceful and wrathful ornaments and attributes.

Undated (circa 13th century), Tibet, Hevajra, brass, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

In his sahaja heruka form, he has one head with three eyes, two hands in which he holds a vajra sceptre and a skull cup, two legs, often standing on one or two victims. He wears a garland of severed heads and normally has a ritual staff in the crook of his left arm.

This Pala-style figure wears a tiger skin loin cloth that fits tightly like a pair of shorts, in the Indian fashion, held in place with a festooned belt.

Undated, Tibet, Heruka Hevajra, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

A protector against the demons (maras), heruka Hevajra always stands alone, one foot on one or several victims the other in the air (like a dakini), his hair tied in a mitre-like bunch, holding a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a skull cup in the other. The above does a pointing gesture with his left hand and has also been described as a 10th century Nepalese sculpture of Vajrapani, who normally stands on both feet. He wears a tiger skin loin cloth, snake adornments and a low tiara.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Hevajra (labelled Vajradaka), bronze, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

He normally has a ritual staff propped against his left arm, often missing from sculptures, and may wear a skull crown, bone jewellery, a garland of severed heads.

16th or 17th century, (originally labelled 13th-14th century), Guhyasamaja Hevajra, Tibet, copper alloy with copper and silver inlay and pigments, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Always in embrace with Nairatmya, Guhyasamaja Hevajra has 8 heads, each with three eyes, 16 hands in which he holds skull cups containing animals and human figures, 4 legs, in a dancing posture, two of his feet trampling four victims (Hindu gods).

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The heads may be stacked (4+3+1) or arranged in a circle of 4 at the front and 4 at the back, or 7+1 on top as is the case here. There is an effigy of Akshobhya in his headdress.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Hevajra, bronze (brass) with silver inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Nairatmya has one head with three eyes, two legs and two hands, in which she holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. She wears a bone apron.

Possibly 15th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This is an example of stacked heads. According to textual sources, the skull cups in his right hands contain a horse, a donkey, a bull, a camel, a man, a sharabha, a cat or an owl, and an elephant in the main right hand.

16th century, Tibet, Hevajra and consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by 25 Blythe Road.

The skull cups in his left hands contain the god of water, the god of fire, the god of art, the god of the Moon, the god of the Sun, Yama, the god of wealth, and the god of Earth in the main hand.

17th century, Tibet, Hevajra, wood, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

 

 

Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani with bell

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, Nilambadhara, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Marcel Nies.

In one of his most common forms, wrathful Vajrapani brandishes his main attribute and presses a bell against his left side. He is adorned with the eight snake ornaments (no skull crown and no garland of severed heads) and usually treads on an elephant-headed demon lying on snakes (Bhut Aparajita). The above wears a foliate crown, large earrings and snakes, his tiger skin loin cloth is held in place with a cloth belt. The petals on the pedestal are engraved rather than sculpted, which helps date the piece.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with stones, private collection, photo by Hayman Himalayan Art.

A similar appearance, with two figures on the pedestal, who represent ego and ignorance.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, black stone, private collection, photo by Renaud Montméat.

In theory, he never wears a skull crown but he may have a garuda in his headdress. This one wears a five-skull tiara and there is a garuda at the top of the arch behind him.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The bell is often held upside-down.