Tibet, Vajrasattva – various forms

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, brass with  turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

In his peaceful form, Vajrasattva may be seated or standing. When seated he holds a vajra sceptre in his right hand at heart level, often upright, and a bell in the other against his hip. The thin celestial scarf forming a frame around the subject is typical of a group of metal sculptures attributed to 13th and 14th century Tibet.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A rare sculpture of the deity in his heruka form, seated in embrace with his consort and holding the attributes in the same way as Vajradhara would.

Bonhams point out that it is the sharp facial expression on his face that distinguishes him from the latter. (The fact that she holds the same attributes is another clue: Vajradhara’s consort would hold a vajra sceptre  and a skull cup).

16th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva and consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Peaceful, with the consort.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrasattva and consort, heruka form, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

An extremely rare brass sculpture of the wrathful form of this buddha, with his consort. He holds the vajra sceptre upright before his heart and the bell against his hip, clad in  a tiger skin loin cloth and adorned with snakes, including a long one worn as a sacred thread. She wears a leopard skin, holds a knife and a skull cup and is adorned with snakes. Their face is painted with cold gold and pigments, their hair dyed with orange pigment. The stand on a double-lotus base complete with flaming mandorla.

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Tibet, Vajradhara – alone (10)

14th-15th century, Tibet or Nepal, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy, gilt copper, stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Vajradhara, his hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture, is identified by the attributes (vajra sceptre and bell) on the lotuses fastened to his elbows.

14th-15th century, Western Tibet, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

More often he holds the attributes in his hands crossed over his heart.

The above wears a long lower garment delicately engraved with a floral motif and a shawl over his shoulders.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Here, the ornate silk garment is held in place with a belt with raining jewel pendants that rest over his legs.

16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, bronze, private collection, photo by Marchance auctioneers.

16th century, Tibet, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Galerie Hioco.

Tibet, Manjushri – various forms

Undated (circa 11th century?), Western Tibet, Guge Kingdom, Ngari Manjushri, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom,  is particularly easy to identify when he brandishes a sword. In his sthiracakra form he holds the Prajnaparamita tantra in his left hand at heart level, as above.

The tripartite crown with triangular panels and large rosettes, the foliate garland, the stippled decoration on the accessories and the incisions are typical of the Ngari area.

14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, at the Rietberg Museum in Zürich (Switzerland), photo from the Hungtington Archive.

In his arapachana form he holds at heart level the stem of a lotus that supports the manuscript. According to the texts, it should be a blue lotus, which has a triangular shape because it is never fully open (unlike this one).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Guhyasamaja Manjuvajra, gilt copper, photo from the Huntington Archive.

One of the various forms of Manjushri derived from the namasangiti tantra, Guhyasamaja Manjuvajra may be with his consort or alone. He has three heads and six hands, in which he holds a flaming sword and a blue lotus (utpala) topped with a book (upper hands), a vajra sceptre and a bell -missing here from his main hands – a bow and an arrow (lower hands).

15th century, Tibet (labelled China on Himalayan Art Resources), Manjushri, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Originally, White Manjushri had no sword at all. From the 13th century onwards he started to be depicted with lotuses supporting the manuscript to his left and the hilt of a sword to his right.

Circa 15th century, Tibet, possibly Central Tibet (Tsang atelier), bronze (copper alloy), at Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo from the Huntington Archive.

His hands often do the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with coral and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Hayman Himalayan Art.

When seated, even if the hilt of a sword is not visible, the book on the lotus to his left is enough to identify him.

Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara (17)

Undated, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, metal with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Christie’s, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The most popular four-hand form (chaturbhuja) of Avalokiteshvara, commonly referred to as Shadakshari Lokeshvara, sits with his main hands clasped at hear level to hold a wish-granting gem against his heart.

15th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.He holds a rosary  in his right hand and a lotus(missing here) in the other. He may have an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress…

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt metal with cold gold and pigment, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

… or just the head of Amitabha on his chignon.

The above wears a shawl with an incised pattern his hair is dyed with lapis lazuli powder, his lips are painted with red pigment.

16th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass, private collection.

On this unusual sculpture he is seated on a lotus atop a throne covered with a cloth and supported by lions over a lotus base.

17th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, copper alloy, at the Patan Museum (Nepal).

He normally sits in the vajra position.

17th century, Tibet, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection.

This is a rare image of him standing, adorned with jewellery and a billowing scarf with split serpentine ends.

17th-18th century (or earlier?), Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

On this masterpiece we see him seated on a double lotus base with large round petals often seen on earlier works (15th-16th century).

He wears the skin of an animal (deer or antelope) on his left shoulder.

Tibet, Hevajra (4)

16th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

This unusual work depicts Hevajra with three heads, eight arms, two legs, in embrace with Nairatmya, who has one head and two arms. He holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands (across her back), a bow and an arrow, the hide of an elephant (only the front feet visible) and another two attributes in the other hands.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy with pigment, at the Indian Museum of Kolkata (India).

Most Tibetan metal sculptures depict him with eight heads, 16 hands, 4 legs, standing in embrace with the consort.

17th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum

17th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum.

He holds skull cups filled with small figures representing deities and animals (see previous post), she has one head and two hands, in which she holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. There is a variant, in which he holds ritual implements instead of skull cups.

18th century, same as before, photo from the Forman Werner Archive.

The heads are usually arranged in a circle of seven (4 at the back, 3 at the front) plus one on top, all of them with three eyes and a skull crown.

Undated, Tibet, Hevajra, private collection, photo by Holly Auctions.

The two deities stand on Black Bhairava (ego) and red Kalaratri (ignorance).

Undated, Tibet, Hevajra, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

 

Tibet, Hevajra (3)

When depicted in embrace with his consort,  Hevajra may have 1 to 8 heads, 2 to 4 legs, 2 to 16 hands.

15th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt metal, photo by Walter Arader, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

They both wear bone jewellery and skull crowns, she has a bone apron (with raining jewel pendants in this case) and a garland of skull, he has a garland of fifty severed human heads.

16th century, Tibet, Hevajra, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

She has a leg around his waist and holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India), photo from the Huntington Archive.

In his guhyasamaja form, the skull cups in his left hand hold the god of water, the god of fire, the god of art, the god of the Moon, the god of the Sun, the god of Earth, Yama, the holder of wealth.

Circa 16th century?, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

and the skull cups in his right hands hold a horse, a donkey, a bull, a camel, a cat or an owl, an elephant, a man and a mythical creature  called sharabha (see the page on animals and mythical creatures at the top of the left hand column of this blog).

15th-17th century (closer to 17th), Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, is or was at the Sakya monastery in Shigatse (Tibet), photo from the Huntington Archive.

Their hair is dyed with red pigment as is the case for most deities with a wrathful appearance.

Tibet, unidentified wrathful deities (2)

16th century, Tibet, unidentified, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel.

This character, possibly an attendant, has a semi-wrathful aspect and both hands doing a symbolic gesture.

He is adorned with princely jewellery and a five-leaf crown inlaid with stones (many missing).

18th century, Tibet, tantric deity, gilt copper, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

This very wrathful character riding a horse has one head and four arms. He wears a long coat and boots, a five-skull crown with flowing ribbons, large round earrings, a garland of severed heads. His hair is gathered in a large bun tied with a snake and topped with a flaming finial.

18th century, Tibet, wrathful deity, bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This could be one of several deities and only the missing attributes would give us his identity. He wears the usual wrathful ornaments (snakes and bone accessories, garland of severed heads, tiger skin dhoti, five-skull crown) and has a human hide and the skin of an animal over his back.

Undated (circa 19th century), Tibet, gilt metal, at the American Museum of National History.

Modern sculptures (19th century onwards) are only included in this blog when they are of particular relevance or interest. Out of a set of animal-headed deities, this is the only one with three human heads, each with three eyes. He has six hands, in which he holds various attributes (snake, noose, book, stem?). His red hair is gathered in a tall chignon that seems to be adorned with a multitude of small skulls or heads.