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.

 

 

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Mongolia, wrathful forms (2)

16th century (or later?), Mongolia, Hayagriva, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, published on http://www.buddhacollectors.com.

This is Red Hayagriva, who has three heads, each with three eyes and three horses’ heads in his flaming hair. Five of his six hands would normally hold a sword, a ritual staff, a vajra, a lasso of intestine, a spear, the other hand does a wrathful gesture. He may have 6 or 8 legs, the above has six, the right ones bent at the knee, the left ones held straight. He wears a human hide and an elephant hide over his back, a tiger skin loin cloth around his waist – the tail of the animal dangling at the front – and is adorned with snakes.

17th-18th century, Mongolia, Achala, gilt copper and painted details, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Achala with one head, with three eyes and the upper fangs biting the lower lip;  two hands, holding a flaming sword and a lasso; 2 legs, one kneeling and the other crouching. His flaming hair is tied with a snake. He wears a tiger skin dhoti knotted at the front, the head of the animal ‘devouring’ his right knee.

Undated (17th-18th century?), Mongolia, Black Jambhala, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Black Jambhala, normally ithyphallic and without earrings, stands on the elephant-headed god of wealth while holding a mongoose in his left hand and a skull cup filled with gems in the other. He wears the 8 naga ornaments (snakes) and some jewellery. The artist has given him a human face, with a thin moustache. The darker tone of the cold gold applied to the face is a feature typical of Mongolian works.

 

 

Pala India, a few wrathful deities (2)

12th century, India, Achala, copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.pundoles.es

Half kneeling and half crouching, Achala wields a sword and holds a lasso that hovers over his shoulder. His eyes are inlaid with copper, his fangs with silver, his tall chignon is dyed with red pigment. His leopard skin loin cloth (incised with large circles) is held in place with a heavy belt decorated with a floral buckle.

11th century, Northern India, Hevajra, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Heruka Hevajra, who protects agains the demons (maras), is seen here in his one-head  version, with two hands and two legs, one of them resting on a victim, the other in the air with the knee resting on a lotus sprouting from the pedestal – an arrangement seen on Tibetan sculptures a few centuries later.

He holds a thunderbolt sceptre in his right hand, a bell (instead of the usual skull cup) in his left hand, and has a ritual staff propped against his left shoulder. His tightly-fitting leopard skin loin cloth is held in place with a festooned belt. He wears a garland of human heads.

12th century, Northern India, Hevajra, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

A similar iconography, with the left hand missing, the orange paint on his hair likely to be more recent. He is accompanied by two attendant female deities.

Undated, India, Hevajra, copper alloy, private collection, Holly Auctions on Himalayan Art Resources.

Tibet, Achala (12)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy (brass), metal inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Achala, sword in hand, adorned with snakes and jewellery including a coral-inlaid necklace, his face painted with cold gold, his teeth inlaid with silver, the eyes with copper, stands on Ganapati, who seems to be lifting his head to look at us.

13th century, same as before.

Tibetan artists often used copper (instead of silver) for the eyes of wrathful deities. The above also has a copper-inlaid nipple, and silver-inlaid teeth.

He has syllables incised on his back and the Achala mantra is engraved on the back of the pedestal.

Undated, Tibet probably, Achala, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

12th century (or later copy?), Tibet, Achala, copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.gg-art.com

On this sculpture and the previous one the lasso he holds in his left hand has a vajra tip. The arch behind him has serrated flames with an incised contour and is topped with a stupa and ribbons.

Undated, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A similar type of flaming arch, topped with a triple gem.

Tibet, Achala (11)

12th century, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy, at the Newark Museum (USA).

Achala, in his most popular (white) form, standing on an elephant-headed victim, his right knee bent, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth, brandishing a sword in one hand and holding a lasso in the other. He has three eyes, a mitre-like coiffure, a small foliate tiara and a long snake worn as a sacred thread.

Undated, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This one stands on an unusual base with an open row of petals below the double lotus. His flaming hair is shaped like a fan and he wears a snake around his waist.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

We can see on this example how his upper fangs bite his lower lip and how his left hand does a threatening gesture with the forefinger raised (tarjani mudra) while holding the lasso. The victim he tramples has a human face.

Undated (12th century circa?), Tibet, Achala, copper alloy, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

He may be half crouching and half kneeling, as on this Pala-style sculpture.

13th century, Western Tibet, Achala, copper alloy and pigments, at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, published on Wikimedia Commons.

His flaming hair, fastened with a snake and painted with orange pigment, has been given yet another shape. It is topped with a flaming jewel on a lotus.

Pala India, Achala

 

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Achala, brass, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Achala, brass, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

Clad in a tiger skin dhoti and adorned with a skull crown, snakes and silver jewellery, Achala stands on two victims (Ganapati with an elephant head and Shiva), brandishing his flaming sword with the right hand and doing a wrathful gesture at heart level with the other, a lasso wound around his fingers. The double-lotus base is on a rocky formation. His eyes, fangs (biting his lower lip), necklace, anklets, the rim of his crown, the centre of his earrings and the flower in his headdress are made of silver. There are traces of orange pigment in his semi-circular chignon.

12th century, same as before, private collection, photo by Christie's.

12th century, same as before, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one has upright flaming hair tied in a bunch, a leopard skin dhoti, no visible fangs, no victim under his feet. He wears a long snake as a sacred thread. The double lotus base is lower and has flatter petals than the standard Pala style.

13th century, Northeast India, Achala, brass, private collection, photo by Christie's.

13th century, Northeast India, Achala, brass, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This later work still follows the style of the Pala period (8th-12th century) but there is no beading on the pedestal and the lotus petals are broader and shorter.

Nepal, Late Malla Achala

16th century, Nepal, Achala, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

16th century, Nepal, Achala, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

This rare Nepalese sculpture of Achala (far more common in Tibet) is a good example of the refined craftsmanship of Newari artists during the Malla period. The deity is half crouching and half kneeling, brandishing his sword and holding his (missing) lasso, clad in a short dhoti incised with a floral motif and held in place with a belt – its pendant ribbon studded with gems. He wears a crown with bows and ribbons, plain armbands and bangles, hoops, beaded anklets, a short necklace with large cabochons typical of the late Malla period, and a celestial scarf with leaves and buds coming out of the extremities.