Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani – standing (4)

11rh-12th century, Western Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Koller.

Possibly part of a set, this solid-cast figure has the bonhomie of many 11th and 12th century West Tibetan sculptures vaguely inspired by the Indian Pala style. The hair is gathered in a three-tier chignon topped with a lotus bud finial, his low tiara with a single leaf panel is fastened with ribbons forming large bows on each side of the head. He holds an upright vajra in his right hand and a vajra-handled bell in the other at hip level. His knee-length garment, knotted at the back, is decorated with a stippled motif and thick beading on the hem.

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Capriaquar on http://www.asianart.com.

Occasionally, this bodhisattva holds the stem of a lotus which supports the attribute and does a symbolic gesture with the other hand.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, by Chöying Dorje, copper with cold gold and pigments, is or was at Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The tenth karmapa portrayed, in his own particular style, a dishevelled Vajrapani standing on  twisted nagas (snakes) over a lotus on a rocky formation supported by two crouching figures.

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Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – seated (2)

14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani (lotus bearer) form, with an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, metal, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

The bodhisattva of compassion is seated at royal ease (see the new section on leg poses added to the Hand Gestures page in the left-hand column of this blog), his right arm resting over the raised knee, the left arm placed on the lotus base. We can see the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder and an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, two attributes of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form. He may have held the stem of a lotus, now missing, in his left hand.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay and pigment, private collection, photo by Koller.

This Avalokiteshvara has no effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, no antelope skin, no lotus, and no crown, yet the Khasarpana form would have matted hair cascading and both hands doing the dharmacakra (turning the wheel of dharma) gesture.  It may be that he has lost his crown or that this is a lesser known of the very many forms of this deity.

17th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, also labelled ‘Male on a cow’, by Chöying Dorje, copper and cold gold, is or was in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The rosary in his right hand and the lotus in the other identify this figure as Avalokiteshvara. The very creative 1oth karmapa has given him an unusual hairstyle sometimes seen on sculptures of Tara, which consists in gathering all the hair in a bunch worn on one side.

 

Tibet, Maitreya – buddha of the future (3)

15th century, Western Tibet, Maitreya, wood with clay, gesso, straw and pigments, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

This carbon-dated sculpture depicts Maitreya in his buddha appearance, wearing a red patched robe with a blue hem, the garment covering only one shoulder (normally the left one). His missing right hand displayed either the fear-allaying or the teaching gesture, the left hand appears to have been resting over the knee.

14th or 17th century, Tibet, Maitreya, copper alloy, same as before.

Such dark alloy images of Maitreya seated with both legs pendant and the feet resting on a lotus were particular popular in Tibet during the 14th century. The large red circle over his navel is a singular feature. His elongated waist, the shape of the head and face and the draping suggest that the work was made around the 17th century. His headdress is decorated with a stupa and some rosettes, there are traces of cold gold on the face and neck, his hands are ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, a gesture often displayed by Maitreya.

18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper with stone inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Maitreya is dressed in a fine silk robe decorated with an incised motif and loosely gathered over his legs. As on the previous image, the right shoulder is covered but the arm is left free. He is easily identified by the stupa in his headdress.

 

Tibet, peaceful Manjushri – seated (7)

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

The bodhisattva of wisdom is doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture while holding the stem of lotuses that support a book and the hilt of a sword.

His long dhoti is decorated with fine incisions throughout and his belt is engraved with a geometrical pattern. He wears showy beaded and stone-inlaid jewellery including ankle ornaments worn over his garment.

Undated, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt metal, turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A similar Newari-style image,

16th-17th century, Tibet or Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

 

Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti (4)

17th century, Tibet, Manjughosa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Far East Asian Art.

The namasangiti form of Manjushri/Manjughosa may have 1 or 3 heads and up to 12 arms. The above has one head and four hands, in which he holds a sword and a manuscript; the missing attributes are a bow and an arrow.

Undated (circa 18th century ?), Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this Pala-revival image we can see the bow in one of his left hands. The other left hand holds the long stem of a blue lotus supporting the Prajnaparamita sutra topped with a flaming jewel.

16th century, (Tibet?), Manjushri, namasangiti, silvered copper alloy with stones and coral, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara (16)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, dark copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

Sometimes Tibetan sculptures depart from standard iconography, especially from the 16th century onwards. Instead of holding a rosary in his right hand, this Chinese-style figure holds a flower, possibly a blue lotus, which is never fully open.

18th century, Eastern Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

This one, designed to be carried in a portable shrine or amulet box judging by its  size (about two and a half centimetres), supports a manuscript in his right hand.

Same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The above holds a small object in his upper right hand which Bonhams  describe as a jewel.

He wears a five-leaf crown with Chinese-style serpentine ribbons and his chignon is topped with Amitabha’s head.

18th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper with stone inlay and paint, at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City (USA).

The main hands are always clasped at heart level to hold a wish-granting jewel, while the left one holds a fully-open lotus.

Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara (15)

17th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

This Avalokiteshvara in his Shadakshari form has a flaming jewel on top of his chignon and holds a closed lotus in his left hand. The main hands are clasped at heart level and the upper right hand holds a rosary as usual. The angular shape of the loops formed by his celestial scarf around his elbows helps date the piece.

Same as before.

Another recurrent feature on 17th century sculptures made in Tibet is an elongated torso, often associated with a thin waist and thin arms. The above has sharp facial features painted with pigments, and the head of Amitabha on top of his chignon.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this sculpture, the deity holds two lotuses instead of one. He sits on a tall lotus pedestal with striations at the top instead of beading.

 

His His urna and accessories are inlaid with large-size stones (and a pearl, possibly to substitute one of the missing cabochons). Older works would be decorated with smaller gems. There is an antelope skin over his left shoulder.