Tibet, a singular Phagpa Lokeshvara (2)

Undated, Tibet, Phagpa Lokeshvara, wood, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This form of Avalokiteshvara is rarely seen, especially since the majority of sculptures are made of wood  – like the emblematic 7th century Nepalese statue at the Potala (heavily restored with a thick coat of gilding that covers the details), and most of them have lost an arm – or both. This one has lost its feet  but the arms and hands are intact.

He holds his left hand against his hip, the other does he gesture of supreme generosity. His knee-length garment is held in place with a belt and complemented by a broad sash worn low down and knotted on one side.

Unlike most versions, he has no mass of hair folded across his head but long strands of curls falling over his shoulders. He displays other unusual features such as the rosettes on his crown, a broad v-shape necklace (a design often seen on 16th- 17th century Nepalese sculptures) and, above all, an effigy of Amitahba in his crown. Many images of Avalokiteshvara have one but in his phagpa lokeshvara form the front part of his crown is either plain or decorated with an effigy of himself.

 

 

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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, various female deities (3)

Undated (18th century?), Tibet, Sarasvati, bronze, Pala Revival style, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Tibetan sculptures of Sarasvati, of Hindu origin, are very few. She has one  to three heads, two to six arms,  two legs, and normally sits as in the above manner to play a string instrument (vina) often missing. She may hold a book and a grain of rice instead. This one has a long dhoti decorated with large dots of copper and/or silver inlay in the Indian Pala manner.

18th century, Tibet (or China? Labelled China on Himalayan Art Resources), Sarasvati, bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A similar style work, with Chinese facial features, a plain dhoti and a different metal alloy.

Undated, Tibet, Pancha Raksha deity, gilt copper or copper alloy, at a mountain sanctuary, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Out of the five pancha raksha deities (the embodiment of five early Buddhist texts) only Maha Sahasrapramardana has one head and six hands and is always seated and adorned with peaceful ornaments. She normally holds a sword, an axe, a bow, an arrow, a lasso, her lower left hand does the gesture of supreme generosity (as above)

This deity holds a bow and an arrow, a lasso, and does the gesture of generosity with her lower left hand. The other two attributes seem to be another lasso (or noose) and a stem.

15th century, Tibet, Densatil, goddess, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

We have seen a very similar dancing figure with one head and four arms holding several objects among which a skull cup and a drum, an attribute missing from the lower left hand. The above sustains a trumpet made from a conch shell in her upper right hand. She has a conical chignon topped with a jewel.

Undated (circa 18th century), Tibet, Sitatapatra, bronze with cold gold and pigments, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (USA).

Sitatapatra, ‘the white parasol’, is depicted in her one-head and two-hand form, seated in the vajra position and holding a parasol with her left hand; the dharma wheel normally in her right hand is missing.

 

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 (3)

13th century, Tibet, unidentified, copper alloy with pigment, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This masterpiece depicts a wrathful deity with three heads, six hands and four legs, clad in a tiger skin, adorned with snakes, a garland of skulls and a skull crown. jewellery and a thin celestial scarf, an elephant hide over his back.

He holds a skull cup and a vajra sceptre (instead of a flaying knife) in his main hands…

An arrow, a human corpse, a drum and possibly a vajra-noose in the others.

He stands on two victims, possibly Kalaratri and Bhairava.

There is a form of Yamantaka (Krishna Yamari) with three heads and six hands  who holds various attributes including a human corpse (impaled on a tree, on paintings), a noose and a vajra sceptre but he normally has two legs and one of his attributes is a sword.

15th century, Tibet, unidentified, brass, is or was at the Potala in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This rare item depicts a 17-head deity (four stacks of four heads plus one head on top, all of them with three eyes), in embrace with his consort who only has one head. It is not clear how many arms they each have. We have seen several examples of a rare form of namasangiti Manjushri with two hands held above his head, but they all have only one head, twelve hands and no consort.

17th century, Tibet, heruka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.This  wrathful meditational deity is depicted with his consort, who holds a long-life vase in her left hand. Their other attributes are now missing.

 

 

Tibet, Achala – various forms

On paintings, Achala may have white, blue or black skin. White Achala is described as having one head with three eyes, orange flaming hair, two hands and two legs. Blue Achala usually has blue hair and he may have 2 or 4 heads and 2 or 4 hands.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Achala, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo from the Huntington Archive on http://www.huntingtonarchive.org.

In sculpture, it is not always possible to distinguish between the 2-head and 2-hand form of Achala and the white form, although generally speaking the former is depicted with his mouth closed, the upper fangs biting the lower lip.

16th c. cir?, Tibet, Achala, blue, gilt c.a.+stones, Densatil style, private on HAR

Undated, Tibet, Blue Achala, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

They both brandish a flaming sword with the right hand and a have noose or lasso wound around the forefinger of the left hand.

Same as before, copper alloy, same as before.and both forms may be standing on Ganapati, or half kneeling on the lotus base, but only Blue Achala may have a human form as on the two items above. This Pala revival work depicts him with a knee-length lower garment held in place with a belt. The previous ones wears the usual tiger skin dhoti.

14th century, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy with stone and silver inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is a rare example of Blue Achala with one head and four arms, standing on Ganapati (who holds a pot), an effigy of Akshobhya in front of  his flaming hair bunch, adorned with snakes, holding what looks like an arrow in his lower right hand. His eyes and urna are inlaid with silver, his crown and earrings with gemstones (most of them missing).

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Achala, private collection, photo by Arts of Asia.

The gaping mouth and orange flaming hair correspond to the white form of this meditational deity.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Black Achala, bronze, cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is Black Achala, with three heads, four legs, six hands..

 … in which he holds a sword and a lotus (upper hands), a vajra sceptre and a wheel of dharma, a skull cup and a flaying knife (main hands).

He wears the usual tiger skin dhoti and is adorned with snakes and a garland of fifty severed heads.