Nepal, Avalokiteshvara (7)

12th-13th century, Nepal, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt

In Nepal this form of Avalokiteshvara rarely has the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder, and on many occasions there is no effigy of Amitabha in his headdress either. The above is therefore identified by the roundish eight-petal lotus in his left hand and the position of his right hand (in this case in the gesture of supreme generosity).

Circa 1250, Nepal, Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara), black stone, private collection, photo on Catawiki .

A singular stone example, with a more realistic lotus, an effigy of Amitabha at the front of his single-leaf tiara, serpentine armbands typical of early Nepalese works, and an unusual hairstyle.

13th century, Nepal, Padmapani Lokeshvara, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 19680 lot 718, and on Himalayan Art Resources (dated 14th century).

During the Malla period, portable metal sculptures are richly gilt and inlaid with gems, lotuses have well-defined multi-layered petals and a raised heart, crowns are more elaborate and usually have a small Kirtimukha at the front, with vegetation coming out of its mouth and a separate leaf on each side.

Circa 17th century, Nepal, Padmapani, stone, private collection, photo on Cornette de Saint Cyr .

18th century, Nepal, Padmapani Lokeshvara, wood with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt .

Tibet, Chitipati

18th century, Tibet, dancing skeleton couple, (gilt) copper, private collection, photo on HAR .

The couple of skeletons known as citipati/chitipati have three functions in Tibetan art. On paintings they represent the lords of the charnel fields. In sculpture they may represent a father-mother couple, but they are also used as a decoration, for instance on bone aprons used in cham dancing. The above adorn a trumpet stand. They wear a skirt-like garment, a cloud-shaped cape, a five-skull crown with colourful side bows, and have a half-vajra finial on their head.

18th century, Tibet, (Shri) Shmashana Adhipati, terracotta (with pigments), Wellcome Collection, photo Wellcome collection .

When representing the father-mother entity, Shri Shma holds a skull cup and wields a skull-tipped staff, Shana Adhipat may hold a stalk of grain in her right hand and a long-life vase in the other. They have a third eye, a curled tongue, bared fangs, and they stand in a dn

18th century, (Tibet or Nepal?), Chitipati, stone (and pigments), private collection, photo on HAR .

On this example she holds the same attributes as him.

18th century, Tibet, citipati, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This single skeleton, possibly an altar ornament, holds a conch shell.

You may also like to read this link about engraved skulls on asianart.com .

Tibet, hierarchs (5)

17th century, Tibet, Fifth Sharmapa (Shamarpa), silver with pigments, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

A rare silver sculpture of the 5th shamarpa, Konchog Yanlag (see biographical notes on shamarpa.org, and the shamarpa page on HAR ), seated on a square cushion, his right hand over his knee, the left hand in the gesture of meditation and holding a large flaming jewel, his head covered with the distinctive red lotus hat of the shamarpas, with a jewel emblem at the front , or sometimes a visvajra,  a crescent moon+sun disc at the top, a cloud pattern at the sides, always trailing towards the back.

Circa 15th-16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt copper (alloy?), private collection, photo on lot-art .

18th century, Tibet, lama, bronze, private collectin, photo on Hardt .

14th century, Tibet, karmapa 3, Rangjung Dorje, gilt bronze with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Navin Kumar Gallery .

The karmapa hat is black, with a visvajra symbol at the front, a crescent moon+sun disc at the top, a cloud pattern at the sides, trailing towards the front.

17th-18th century, Tibet, The First Panchen Lama, Lobzang Chokyi Gyaltsen, gilt copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s as before, lot 310.

18th century, Changkya Rolpai Dorje, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s as before, lot 339.

See biographical notes on the third changkya, Rolpai Dorje, on Treasury of Lives .

17th century, Tibet, Dalai Lama 5, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, photo 50751 on the Huntington Archive .

The fifth dalai lama holds the stem of a lotus that supports the effigy of a teacher.

18th century, Tibet, Dalai Lama 3, Sonam Gyatso, metal (silver or silver alloy with traces of cold gold), photo on HAR , at the Palace Museum in Beijing (China).

The lama’s right hand is in the gesture of debate, the other in the gesture of meditation.

Tibet, Ushnishavijaya (9)

16th century, Tibet, Tsang province atelier, Ushnishavijaya, metal (brass with silver inlay), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

Always seated with her legs locked, the ‘Victorious Goddess of the Ushnisha’ is depicted here in her popular three-head and eight-arm form. Her lower right hand is always in the gesture of supreme generosity. When she holds her main attribute – a visvajra – in her main right hand, she usually has a lasso in the other and the remaining ones hold the effigy of Amitabha seated on a lotus, an arrow, a bow, a long life vase, as above. One of the left hands is in the fear-allaying gesture.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Ushnishavijaya (labelled ‘bodhisattva’), bronze, private collection, photo on Collin du Bocage .

Alternatively, she may hold the visvajra in one of her right hands, in which case there is a vajra sceptre in one of her left hands (instead of the fear-allaying gesture).

18th century, Tibet, Ushnishavijaya (labelled ‘Marici’), gilt bronze, partly repainted, private collection, photo on Hansons .

Although her attributes are now lost, the position of the hands shows that this figure held the visvajra in her main right hand and a lasso in the other, a bow and an arrow in her middle hands, a long-life vase in the lower left hand, the right one is in the usual gesture. The upper hands may have held an effigy of Amitabha and a vajra sceptre, which departs from the standard depiction in Tibet.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Ushnishavijaya, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Bonhams, San Francisco .

Tibet, Vajrabhairava (3)

15th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt metal with pigment and stones, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

Ekavira Vajrabhairava, with 9 heads, 34 arms, 16 legs, his main hands clutching a flaying knife and a skull cup, his upper hands holding the hide of an elephant across his back. He always has a buffalo head as his main head and Manjushri’s at the top or in the top row. On this example he stands on animals and gods on a multi-tier pedestal.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, metal with painted face and hair, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

His heads main be stacked in three rows of three, as on the first picture, or in a circle of seven plus one plus Manjushri’s, as above. His remaining hands, often arranged in groups of two, hold a variety of implements, such as a drum, a hook, an arrow, an axe, a ritual staff, a stick, a razor , to his right; a lotus, a bell, a wheel, a limb, a bow, a shield, a noose, Brahma’s head with four faces, to his left.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, wood, private collection, photo on Marques dos Santos .

Traditionally his right legs are bent and tread on 4 Hindu gods and 4 mammals, the left ones are stretched and stand on another 4 gods and 4 birds (Indian iconography).

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, gilt bronze with cold gold and polychromy, private collection, photo on Bonhams .

Vajrabhairava in embrace with his consort, Vajravetali, who holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. His main hands and the upper ones hold the same attributes, his remaining hands hold a different variety of implements.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava with consort, metal (copper alloy with cold gold and pigment), turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

These may include, in his left hands, a body impaled on a tree (top left hand), a bow, a blue lotus, a coil of intestines, a closed umbrella, a bell, a buddha, body parts, a noose, a fly whisk; on the other side he may hold a ritual staff, an axe, a kila, flames, a lotus, a trident, a drum, a sword, an arrow, a vajra sceptre.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, bronze with traces of polychromy (on a brass pedestal), private collection, photo on Cambi Casa D’Aste .

18th century, Tibet, Vajrabhairava, bronze, private collection, photo on Cambi Casa d’Aste .

Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – standing (19)

12th-13th century, West(ern) Tibet, Padmapani, bronze with silver-inlay, private collection, photo on Hardt .

This Kashmiri-style bodhisattva has all the attributes of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani (lotus-bearer) form: an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, an antelope skin over his left shoulder, a lotus in his left hand – and his right hand is in the gesture of supreme generosity. While the engraved dhoti shorter on one side, the foliate garland, the beaded sacred cord, and the large eight-petal lotus recall earlier works made by Kashmiri artist for Guge patrons, the treatment of the eyes is different and the pectorals are not as clearly marked as usual. Also, the additional ribbons that flow upwards are not associated with Himalayan works. The use of blue mineral pigment on the ribbons, earrings and lotus departs from tradition.

10th century, Western Regions, Tibet, Six-Armed Lokeshvara, bronze, photo on Brooklyn Museum .

Shadbhuja Lokeshvara, an antelope skin on his left shoulder, the effigy of Amitabha at the base of his topknot, a lotus in his main left hand, stands on a lotus atop a tall Kashmiri-style plinth. He holds a water pot in his lower left hand, a vajra-hook and a fly whisk in his upper hands, a rosary in his main right hand.

13th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s, Amsterdam .

The water pot held by the neck, in his left hand, derives from Gandharan art, where it is Maitreya’s main attribute. It is not clear if he holds a lotus flower with it but there is a large one at the front of his crown. His right hand is in the fear-allaying gesture and holds a rosary.

Late 18th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, ivory, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s, Paris .

Tibet, Yellow Jambhala (23)

13th century, Western Tibet, (Yellow Jambhala, brass), private collection, photo on westerntibet .

Early Tibetan brass works often depict Yellow Jambhala with a Pala-style chignon and low tiara with prominent side bows, his foot placed on a lotus at the front of the base, holding a mongoose in his left hand and an egg-shaped fruit in the other. The above is flanked by lotuses topped with what may be jewels. His right leg is off-centre, for the foot to rest on a lotus that stems from the side of the plinth, which is not very common.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s.

This one sports an elegant Chinese-style topknot and has a rather serious face.

17th century, Tibet, Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), bronze, private collection, photo on Drouot .

A very rotund yaksha with no third eye, adorned with a floral crown, matching earrings, and a floral garland. His right foot rests on a conch shell atop a long-life vase. The mongoose in his left hand disgorges jewels that pile up on the side of the base.

17th century, Tibet, Yellow Jambhala, clay with pigments, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This rare Chinese-style work portrays him like an angry and rather elderly yaksha with bushy eyebrows and a moustache, no third eye, seated on a large conch shell. His mongoose has a jewel in its mouth, his crown is made of lotuses topped with triple gems, the leaf in his right hand contains what looks like three prickly pears arranged like a triple gem.

18th century, Tibet, Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), bronze, private collection, photo on Tajan .

Probably made for a portable shrine, this tiny figure (around 5 cm tall) depicts him with a crown made of large jewels.

Tibet, Padmasambhava (20)

16th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, gilt metal (copper alloy with turquoise inlay), private collection, photo on HAR .

This striking sculpture depicts Padmasambhava seated on a lotus atop a throne decorated with two lions, two lotuses and an upright vajra sceptre, supported by legs shaped like budding vegetation, its singular backrest made of long-stemmed lotus buds and flowers, with two birds at the top.

17th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, (brass?), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

He is easily identified by his layman’s garments, thick felt boots, lotus hat with a sun-and-moon symbol at the front and a vulture feather on the top (sometimes three), and his large earrings. He holds a vajra sceptre pointing to his heart and has a skull cup in his left hand.

18th century or later, Tibet, Padmasambhava, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 19016 lot 62.

He normally has a ritual staff tucked in the crook of his left arm.

18th century, Central Tibet, Padmasambhava, (gilt) copper alloy with gemstones and traces of paint, photo by Travis Fullerton on cultural weekly, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

When seated in a relaxed manner he normally holds the vajra sceptre (missing here) over his raised knee. On this example, his hat is topped with an inverted lotus flower supporting a half vajra topped with three vulture feathers and flowing ribbons.

18th century, Tibet, metal (gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

13th-14th century, Tibet, Padmasambhava, ivory, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

Guru Rinpoche flanked by Mandarava, to his right, who holds a long-life vase in her left hand, and Yeshe Tsogyal, to his left, who holds a skull cup in her right hand.

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (7)

16th century, (Tibet? China?), Vajrapani, gilt bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Bonhams, London .

17th-18th century, Central Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with gemstones and pigments, photo on  VMFA (USA).

18th century, Central Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with traces of paint, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

Chanda Vajrapani always has one head and two hands. He wields a vajra sceptre in his right hand and has a lasso in the other, usually placed before his heart and making a wrathful gesture. He normally stands on a victim on a bed of snakes.

Circa 13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with polychromy, private collection, photo on Indian Heritage.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy (with stone inlay), private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with traces of gilding, coral and rock crystal inlay, private collection, photo on Auctionata .

Nilamba/Nilambadhara Vajrapani has the same morphology but he always holds a bell in his left hand. He normally stands on one or two victims.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Mahachakra (or Nilambara?) Vajrapani and consort, gilt and polychrome zitan (red sandalwood), private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

Unlike the mahacakra form, which has 3 to 4 heads and 4 or 6 arms, the above looks like nilambara Vajrapani, but accompanied by his consort, who holds a skull cup full of blood and a flaying knife.

Tibet, Maitreya – various postures (6)

12th-13th century, Tibet or Western Himalayas, Maitreya, bronze with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

Unique in its kind, this early sculpture of bodhisattva Maitreya (identified by the large stupa at the front of his crown) depicts him seated with his right leg pendent, atop a lotus seat now lost, his serene and harmonious Tibetan facial features enhanced by large floral earrings and flowing ribbons, his urna, sacred thread, and necklace inlaid with silver in the Pala Indian fashion. 

He wears a Nepalese-style sash drawn tightly across his chest, a long dhoti, both decorated with a stippled and incised pattern – a practice associated with Western Tibet – and a scarf or sash passing over his left arm. There is an non-identified object in his right hand, and he may have had an other attribute in the left one.

14th century, Tibet, Maitreya, (copper alloy with coral inlay), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

Maitreya seated with his legs locked, his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, flanked by blue lotuses, one of them supporting a ritual water pot (kundika). His Pala-style chignon is barely visible behind the tall five-leaf crown with rosettes and ribbons so typical of a group of 13th and 14th century Tibetan non-gilt brass works that feature elegant figures with a bodhisattva appearance.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

When seated, Maitreya may make the fear-allaying gesture with his right hand while the left one is in the meditation gesture or holds a champaka flower or branch.

14th-15th c., Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s as before, lot 325.

The ritual water pot is sometimes placed to his right

15th century, Tibet, Tsang province atelier, Maitreya, silver (on a separate copper alloy base and with gilt and turquoise-inlaid parts), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

This rare silver one has a stupa finial on his chignon.

16th century, Tibet, Sonam Gyaltsen & atelier, Maitreya, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

Maitreya seated with both legs pendent, his feet placed on a large lotus atop the platform that supports his throne. When in this posture, he often has an elongated trunk, and particularly so in this case. His face is painted with cold gold and pigments.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt metal with stone inlay, private collection, photo on HAR.

Maitreya standing, his right hand in the gesture of debate (tip of the forefinger on the tip of the thumb), his left hand held down palm out in the gesture of supreme generosity. The lotus to his left supports a kundika.