Tibet, Hayagriva and consort (2)

16th century circa, Tibet, Hayagriva and consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, Christie’s.

Standing on victims, the two deities hold a vajra-handled flaying knife and a skull cup and have a horse’s head in their chignon. As is traditional in Tibet, the female’s garland is made of 50 skulls while the male’s is made of 50 freshly severed heads. They are also adorned with an elaborate five-skull crown with foliate panels on top of each skull and turquoise-inlaid jewellery. She wears a bone apron, he wears a tiger skin loin cloth.

17th century circa, Tibet, Hayagriva with Vajravarahi, gilt coper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Of Hindu origin, Hayagriva has various forms and functions in Buddhism and various consorts – the above is Vajravarahi, who has a sow’s head sticking out of her right temple. He has three heads each with three silver-inlaid eyes; six arms, with silver-inlaid bracelets; and four legs, with silver-inlaid anklets. His main hands embrace the consort and hold a skull cup and a noose. The others display a wrathful gesture to ward off evil and may have held some attributes. She holds a skull cup and probably a flaying knife.

18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva and Nairatmya, polychrome clay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Now we see him with Nairatmya, who has blue skin, one head, two arms, and wears a leopard skin skirt. He has red skin and mitre-like flaming orange hair, three heads each with three eyes, a skull crown and a horse’s head above, six hands, from which the attributes are missing, and possibly four legs. One head is red, the other white, and the third should be green. The addition of green wings on his back is an unusual feature.

Tibet, Hayagriva alone (3)

17th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, gilt copper alloy with pigment, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Red Hayagriva has three heads, each with three eyes, three horses’ heads and a five-skull tiara, six hands holding various attributes (most missing here) and eight legs treading on eight nagas, wearing a human hide and an elephant hide across his back, a garland of freshly severed heads around his neck, a Chinese-style cross-belt with long pendants. Four legs are bent and the others are stretched.

18th century circa, Tibet, labelled Hayagriva Sangdrup (from his Tibetan name tan drin sang drup), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This form of the deity is also known as ‘Secret Accomplishment’ and is a wrathful form of buddha Amitabha. The above wears the tiger skin sideways, the head resting over his right knee as if devouring it, in the Tibetan fashion.

18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, bronze, at the San Diego Museum of Art (USA).

On this parcel-gilt Chinese-style version, the tiger skin is worn with the head of the animal at the back and the tail forming a triangle at the front.

Early 18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, painted wood, at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

On this painted example we can see that each face was painted a different colour. The main one is meant to be green, the others are red and white respectively. Two of his arms are missing, the lower ones hold a thunderbolt sceptre and possibly a bell, the others would have held a sword and a spear or a ritual staff and a lasso made of intestine.

18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, gilt copper alloy with pigments, published on http://www.pundoles.com

This pot-bellied one-head and two-hand Hayagriva wears his tiger skin loin cloth with the head of the animal over his right knee and the tail at the front. The artist has applied gilding everywhere except the face, giving him a more wrathful aspect. He treads on two victims and is adorned with snakes, including a long one worn as a sacred cord, a five-skull crown, a garland of freshly severed heads, some jewellery and he has a horse’s head on top of his flaming hair.


Tibet, Makaramukha/Makravaktra

Undated, Tibet, Shri Devi retinue figure, copper alloy, at the Capital Museum in Beijing (China), published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This dakini has a human female body and the head of a makara (half crocodile and half elephant). She is adorned with bracelets, armlets and anklets, and has a human hide over her back and shoulders.  She is one of three animal-faced dakinis along with Simhamukha (lion-headed) and Sarvadulamukha (tiger-headed).

Late 18th century, or early 19th, Tibet, Makaramukha, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

Like most dakinis, she adopts a ‘dancing pose’, one foot in the air, the other trampling on a victim, and wears a five-skull crown. The above  is adorned with a Chinese-style cross belt, bracelets and anklets. The human hide is worn loosely on her back.

17th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, bronze.

Along with the lion-headed Simhavaktra, whom we have discussed in a previous post, Makaravaktra is an attendant to Magzor Gyalmo/Palden Lhamo (a form of Shri Devi much worshipped in Tibet). She is in charge of leading her mule or khyang (Tibetan wild ass). As an attendant, she is smaller than the main figure she accompanies.

18th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, brass, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

On this example, we can see the arms of the human hide knotted across her chest and the legs dangling against hers.

17th-18th century, Tibet, bardo deity, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.buddhacollectors.com.

This small makara-headed deity is often confused with Makaramukha, especially because most sculptures are separated from the original set, but, given that she is in charge of leading Shri Devi’s mount, she stands on both feet. Also, she doesn’t wear a skull crown.

18th century, Tibet, labelled dakini Makaramukha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

She usually holds her right hand  above her head, and on this sculpture we can see that she wields a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra).


Tibet, wrathful females (2)

13th century circa, Tibet, dakini, copper alloy, possibly from the Chakrasamavara retinue, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This wrathful dakini holds a skull cup and a flaying knife in her lower hands, a drum and a round object, possibly a fruit, in the upper ones. She is adorned with a five-skull crown , a garland of severed heads, and bone jewellery.

18th century, Tibet, Dakini, gilt copper alloy, at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (USA).

Another ferocious-looking dakini, standing on two victims (one of them with an elephant head and four arms, possibly Ganapati) and holding a flaying knife and skull cup filled with blood.

18th century, Tibet, Bardo deity, private collection, published on http://www.thesaleroom.com

This figure is part of a set of bardo deities, most of them with an animal head (tramen). She stands with one leg on a female victim and wears bone jewellery and a five-skull crown plus a larger skull in her flaming hair. Her flaying knife is missing.


Tibet, Sitatapatra (2)

12th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Tibetan sculptures of the  ‘White Parasol’ are few and usually late ones, those that depict her seated are extremely rare. The above is a three-head and eight-hand version. Her main hands are doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture, the other left hands hold a closed victory banner, a bow, and what looks like a water pot. The lower right hand holds a wheel (cakra), the others probably held a vajra sceptre and an arrow.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, bronze, Van Ham auctions on http://www.lotissimo.com

This Pala revival image depicts Sitatapatra with one head and two hands, the left one folded to support a missing parasol. She may have had a wheel in the other.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Sitatapatra, metal (copper alloy with cold gold and pigments), at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (UK).

The spectacular 1000 heads, 1000 arms and 1ooo legs version includes a parasol (broken here) in one of her main hands.

18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold (and pigments), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one has lost all her side hands but still has a mirror in her main right hand (the other held the missing parasol).


Tibet, Naro Khechara (6)

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

This form of Vajrayogini is always portrayed as a young woman, naked, looking sideways towards the skull cup filled with menstrual blood which she raises to her lips, holding a flaying knife in her right hand lowered down. She may be adorned with a skull crown and a bone apron and she treads on one or two victims.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddhadakini, bronze, private collection, published on http://www.bumpercollection.org.

She has long hair, combed back.

Mid 17th century, Tibet, Sarvabuddhadakini, gilt copper repoussé with cast hands, feet and head, private collection, published on http://www.bumpercollection.org

The head is tilted to drink the blood from the cup.

18th century circa, same as before.

The right hand is held palm outwards.

18th century circa, same as before.

In Tibet she is known under various names linked to Naropa (Naro Dakini, Naro Khechara, etc.)

Undated (18th century?), Tibet, Naro Khechara, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

She often wears a garland of fifty freshly severed heads. The above wears skulls instead, and Chinese-style jewellery and accessories including a cross-belt.

Tibet, White Tara (6)

13th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper or copper alloy, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The deity is seated on a Nepalese-style lotus base with broad petals, her body and faced are gilt but not the lower garment or the pedestal. She has a third eye (not an urna) on her forehead. Her right hand displays the gesture of generosity, the other holds the stem of a lotus.

17th century, Tibet or Mongolia, Tara, wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The eyes in the palm of her hands  and on her forehead and the fact that her legs are in the vajra position tell us this is White Tara. The left hand is held to hold a (missing) flower.

17th century, Tibet, gilt c.a., private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this variant, Tara’s left hand does the teaching gesture while holding the (broken) stem of a blue lotus. The tip of her right thumb touches the tip of the forefinger to display knowledge.

First half of the 18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper alloy repoussé and separately cast parts, stone inlay and pigments, at the Freer and Sackler galleries in Washington DC (USA).

We saw an 18th century Green Tara with a similar type of necklace and cut out lotus recently, both from the same museum. This one has a lower crown which shows her top knot supporting a lotus and flaming jewel finial.

Same, gilt copper and stones, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

An odd mixture of broad shoulders and an exaggeratedly thin waist and elongated torso (the latter recalling 15th century Xuande Ming dynasty works) contrasting with an undersized head. She wears a shawl over her shoulders and a long and ample silk lower garment. The tip of her middle finger on her left hand presses the tip of the thumb, a gesture to ward off evil (in Tibet it is usually seen on wrathful deities holding a lasso).

18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection photo by Capriaquar on http://www.asianart.com

A small figure with painted facial features including bushy eyebrows, the hem of her garment and scarf decorated with large beading, the lotuses fastened to her elbows, her left hand doing the gesture to bestow refuge (the tip of the ring finger touching the tip of the thumb).