Mongolia, wrathful forms (5)

17th century, Mongolia, Dorje Drolo, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Hollywood Galleries.

This wrathful form of Padmasambhava normally rides or stands on a tiger (some sources quote a tigress to be precise) but on this unique image he stands on a lotus base on which a tiger is incised.

As usual, he has a third eye and his upper fangs bite onto his lower lips, there is a vajra sceptre in his right hand and a kila peg in the other. He wears a monastic robe and a belt of severed human heads.

18th century, Mongolia, garudapaksavat Hayagriva, gilt copper (alloy?), private collection, Hanhai auction.

This is one of several three-head six-hand forms of Hayagriva without his consort and without wings (according to the Buddhist Resource Digital Centre the garudapaksavat form has garuda wings). He stands on nagas on a Zanabazar-style lotus base with a row of stamens topped with beading. The upper right hand holds a vajra sceptre, the lower ones may have held a ritual staff and a sword, the attributes on the other side are also missing. There are three horse’s heads in his flaming hair but no garuda.

18th century, Mongolia, Dolonnor, Shadbhuja Mahakala, copper alloy repoussé, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Whereas Tibetan art often depicts Mahakala with endearing facial features, Mongolian sculptures of wrathful deities have a terribly fierce aspect. This highly original work depicts the six-arm form of Mahakala with one head and three eyes, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth, holding a skull cup and a flaying knife in his main pair of hands. The remaining hands would have held a rosary of skulls, a drum, a lasso, a trident or staff.

His eyes, mouth, furled tongue and sharp teeth are painted with pigments, the eyebrows and beard are thick and curly, as on Chinese sculptures of the same period.

The hair fans upwards like large flames slightly going to one side.

18th century, Mongolia, Shadbhuja Mahakala, gilt and lacquered copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The same deity with a squat body and short legs, his flaming hair swept to one side.




Bhutan, a few deities

17th century, Bhutan, Maitreya, painted clay, photo by Françoise Pommaret, on Himayalan Art Resources.

Maitreya, in his buddha appearance, is seated with both legs pendant, his hands doing the “turning the wheel of dharma” gesture especially associated with him, his shoulders covered with a shawl.

17th century, Bhutan,  Avalokiteshvara, painted clay, at the Semthoka Dzong in Bhutan.

Always standing, the eleven-head and a thousand-hand form of Avalokiteshvara is represented with a wheel of arms radiating from the body and a stack heads arranged in three tiers of three, plus Mahakala’s angry face and Amitabha’s head at the very top.

18th century, Bhutan, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, photo by Auction FR.

Green Tara, seated with a leg pendant, the foot resting on a lotus, does the gesture of supreme generosity with her right hand and holds the stem of a large lotus with the other. She wears a long lower garment with soft horizontal pleats and a shawl or scarf forming a loop over her left arm and under the right one. The large overlapping scalloped leaves on the double lotus base are typical of Bhutan.

18th century, Bhutan, Vajrasattva, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold, photo by Françoise Pommaret, on Himalayan Art Resources.

18th century, Bhutan or Tibet, Manjushri, copper (alloy), private collection, photo by Catawiki auction.

Bhutan, a few lamas (2)

17th century, Bhutan, Milarepa, painted clay, photo by Françoise Pommaret.

The Tibetan teacher, poet and saint is identified by his distinctive ‘listening to the echoes of nature’ gesture with the right hand. The begging bowl that goes with it appears to be missing from his left hand.

Possibly 18th century, Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal Rinpoche, copper alloy, at the Asiatic Society in Kolkota (India).

This large work (1m80 high) depicts the founder of the Bhutanese state, Ngawang Namgyal (1594-1651) coiffed with an impressive Drukpa Kagyu hat (he was born into a Tibetan family who ruled the Drukpa Kagyupa order), his abundant facial hair painted black, the left hand calling Earth to witness, the other in the meditation gesture.

17th-18th century, Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, gilt bronze (copper alloy), photo by Chiswick auctions.

We see him here as an older man.

18th-19th century, Bhutan, Karmapa, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Unlike their Tibetan equivalent, most of the Bhutanese sculptures of lamas depict them with facial hair.

Undated, Bhutan, Kagyu Drukpa lama, painted wood, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Bhutan, Padmasambhava (3)

Circa 1800, Bhutan, Padmasambhava, bronze (brass) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, is seated on a cushion on a Bhutanese-style lotus supported by  an open work base with a lotus design and an incised rim. There is a crescent moon and sun symbol at the front of his lotus cap, the feather finial is broken. His eyes are inlaid with silver. He wears fine silk garments worn the Chinese way while his facial features and the use of brass with silver, copper and stone inlay are typically Tibetan. He holds a vajra sceptre pointing towards his heart and a skull cup filled with nectar.


Mongolia, Amitayus-Amitabha (5)

Late 17th century, Mongolia, Amitayus, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Cambiaste.

This remarkable sculpture, possibly made by Zanabazar himself and complete with flaming mandorla,  depicts Amitayus standing on a lotus base with upward-going overlapping scallop-shaped petals typical of Zanabazar’s style and period along with a few other lotus base designs not seen outside Mongolia. Dressed in full bodhisattva attire, his garments decorated with an incised border, he holds a large pot with a lid instead of his usual long-life vase, a feature we saw on another 17th-18th century standing Amitayus from Mongolia.

The facial features and the style of the jewellery are fairly similar to those of a seated Amitayus seen in a recent post and presently at the Zanabazar Museum in Mongolia.

18th century, Mongolia, Amitayus (labelled Amitabha), gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Drouot.

Although the attribute is missing, it is generally accepted that, in sculpture, the buddha who holds both hands in the meditation gesture and wears bodhisattva attire is Amitayus. The slanted eyes, thick eyebrows and pursed lips on the above figure are not typical of the area and may indicate that the work was done for a Chinese patron.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Amitabha, gilt bronze (copper alloy), Zanabazar school, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The buddha with a buddha appearance and both hands in the meditation gesture is generally understood to be Amitabha, who holds a begging bowl.

Mongolia, a few buddhas (2)

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Shakyamuni (labelled Bhaisajyaguru), gilt copper (alloy?), private collection, photo by Kapoor Galleries Inc.

The historical buddha, calling Earth to witness and holding a begging bowl, is seated on a tall double-lotus base typical of  the Zanabazar school. His diaphanous sanghati is decorated with an incised border and worn tightly around the legs, in the Mongolian fashion.

18th century, Mongolia, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This buddha wears his outer garment loosely over both arms and with the chest bare, the soft folds gathered over his legs in the Chinese fashion. He is seated on a Zanabazar-style lotus base with the lower part narrower than usual.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Invaluable.

The buddha of medicine holds a medicine jar with a lid in his left hand and the fruit of the arura plant in the other, his robe decorated with an incised pattern, the lower part covering part of the legs and base, the tail end arranged in a scallop shape. We have seen other examples of  swallow-tail folds over the shoulder blending in with the hem across the chest and the inner edge of the forearm. The strip above the rim of the lotus base is engraved with a geometrical pattern.

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

A similar image, with painted facial features and a patched robe with a more elaborate incised floral pattern on the border.

18th century, Mongolia, Vajradhara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Vajradhara holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his hands crossed over his heart. The artist has given him Chinese-style accessories such as the five-leaf crown, festooned necklace and large earrings often seen on late Tibetan works but not the shawl that usually goes with them (see next photo), while the broad shoulders, the design of the lotus base and the tight fitted lower garment with a large incised border are typical of Mongolian art.


Mongolia, a few female deities

17th century, Mongolia, Vajravarahi, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is the aspect of buddha Vajrayogini with a sow’s head sticking out of her right temple. She stands with a foot on Kalatrari, who embodies ego, over a Mongolian-style single lotus base, holding a flaying knife and a skull cup, a ritual staff propped against her left shoulder. She is adorned with a skull crown, a garland of severed heads, and unusual bone  jewellery with a dharma wheel central motif. The way her right knee rests on a lotus sprouting from the base recalls much earlier Tibetan works with the same feature.

Her flaming hair is raised and shaped like a mitre. She has a third eye and protruding fangs that bite her lower lip.

17th or 18th century, Tibet or Mongolia, silvered and gilt bronze (copper alloy), at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney (Australia).

Green Tara is seated on a (missing) lotus base, her right foot on a large flower fastened to the rim, holding the (missing) stem of a lotus in her left hand. The use of green paint for the flowers in conjunction with parcel-gilding suggests the item was made in Mongolia, or for a Mongolian patron.

Early 18th century, Mongolia, Ushnishavijaya, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

Ushnishavijaya, in her popular three-head and eight-hand form, holds a visvajra in her main hands. The lower right hand displays the gesture of supreme generosity, the other two hold a lotus with an effigy of Amitabha and an arrow. Her upper left hand displays the fear-allaying gesture, the other hands hold a bow and a long-life vase, a standard depiction in Tibet that extended to Mongolia.

18th century, Mongolia, Green Tara, gilt copper (alloy?), private collection, photo by Hanhai auction.