Tibet, Achala (14)

12th century or later, Tibet, Achala, bronze with traces of gilding, private collection, photo on Waddingtons .

Blue Achala, half-kneeling half-crouching, with a flaming sword in his right hand and a (missing) noose in the other, no victim under him. This form of the deity always has his mouth closed and usually bites his lower lip. He wears a tiger skin loin cloth and is adorned with snakes, no garland of severed heads or skull crown. Instead, he wears a foliate crown and princely jewellery.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Achala, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo on Theodore Bruce .

He may have a human appearance, like the above, who wears a conical helmet topped with half-vajra finial, a crown with Kirtimukha at the front and a long jewelled sacred cord.

14th century, Tibet, Achala, bronze with cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo by Koller, 6th May 2014 lot101.

He has one head with three eyes and often has an effigy of Amitabha in his chignon. When standing, he either crushes two victims or elephant-headed Ganapati.

17th century (or later?), Tibet, Achala, bronze, private collection, photo on Arcimboldo  .

He may also hold a vajra sceptre in his left hand instead of a noose.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Achala (labelled ‘Mahakala’), gilt bronze, private collection, (broken sword), photo by Millon, Arts d’Asie 20th June 2017 lot 331.

Tibet, various hierarchs (3)

15th century, Tibet? (labelled ‘Ming Dynasty’), Karmapa, bronze, private collection, photo on Christie’s, London  .

This teacher dressed in full monastic attire holds a long-life vase in both hands. He wears a lotus hat with a sun-and-moon symbol and a half-vajra finial.

16th century, Tibet, Karmapa, copper alloy with silver inlay, cold gold and polychromy, private collection, photo Origine Expert  .

A younger man with a piercing gaze, holding a vajra sceptre and a long-life vase.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Gelug lama, polychrome black stone, private collection, photo by Bonhams, Images of Devotion 2019.

We have seen a few teachers with a flat cap, traditionally worn by translators. Although we cannot see it very well, Bonhams inform us that the hat is yellow, which identifies him as a gelugpa lama.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Panchen Lama, probably Chokyi Gyaltsen, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo on Bonhams, London

This deified lama holds the stem of lotuses that support the hilt of a sword to his right and a manuscript topped with a pearl to his left.

Undated (circa 16th century), Tibet, Tsang province atelier, the third dalai lama, Sonam Gyatso, copper alloy, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

18th century, Tibet, The second (or fifth?) Panchen Lama, Lobsang Yeshe, gilt bronze, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (USA).

Tibet, Black Jambhala (10)

Undated (circa 12th century?), Tibet, Jambhala, (brass with cold gold), private collection, photo by Christie’s, on HAR  (in the Black Jambhala section).

This rare masterpiece (nowhere to be found in Christie’s September 2019 catalogue) depicts a wrathful Jambhala biting down his lower lip and holding in his right hand what looks like a lotus bud, instead of the preceptive skull cup. Another rare feature is the loin cloth, with a lotus print, tied around his waist; this form of the deity is normally ithyphallic (perhaps the lotus bud is a substitute?). Also, he normally treads on a victim.

16th century, Tibet, Kalajambhala, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Bonhams, London .

Black Jambhala, with skull cup and mongoose, his feet crushing a male human figure who holds a bag of jewels. This sculpture is a gilt version of a much older one seen previously, on Bonhams, Hong Kong .

18th century, Tibet?, Black Jambhala (labelled ‘India, Kubera’), painted wood, private collection, photo on Wannenes

18th century, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Drouot .

Tibet, Yellow Jambhala (20)

13th-14th c., Tibet, Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s on HAR

Yellow Jambhala is holding a tiny mongoose by the neck with his left hand and displaying a (missing) citrus fruit with the other. He sits with his right leg pendent, the foot placed on a lotus stemming from the lotus base.

13th-14th century, Tibet?, Jambhala, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo on Ethereal .

On this elegant sculpture derived from the Pala-style, his right foot is placed on a pot of gems. Silver has been used for the eyes, copper for the lips, and both metals for the shorter necklace and the armbands; his long dhoti is decorated with a chased geometrical pattern. His accessories include a garland.

14th century, Tibet?, Yellow Jambhala, bronze, private collection, photo by Poly Auction, sale HKS3316-2 lot 3233.

A variant, with a long-life vase below his right foot.

17th century (or earlier?), Tibet, Walking Jambhala, bronze (copper alloy) with silver-inlaid eyes and turquoise, private collection, photo on Hardt .

A rare and surprising sculpture of Jambhala in a walking pose, holding his mongoose in his left hand and a round citrus fruit or gem in the other, his right arm stretched sideways. His short dhoti is deeply engraved with a (tiger skin?) pattern. His hair is tied in a large bun, he has a beard and bushy eyebrows and wears princely jewellery, no crown.

18th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala (labelled ‘Kubera’), polychrome stone, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 100 China 2.

Tibet, lamas and their hands (3)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Nyingmapa Lama, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s.

This teacher has the piercing gaze, the sun-and-moon symbol at the front of his lotus hat, the goatee and the position of the hands associated with Padmasambhava. However, he wears monastic garments (that leave his right arm uncovered) and his headgear includes folded lappets and a half-vajra finial, not a vulture feather. The position of his left fingers suggests he may have held a skull cup or a bowl.

15th century, Tibet, lama, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection, published on HAR .

A rare sculpture of an elderly teacher dressed in full monastic garb including a meditation cloak, seated on cushion covered with an animal skin (lion according to the Himalayan Art Resources website) and a blanket, atop a stepped plinth decorated with two lions and an upright vajra sceptre. His right hand does the gesture of debate, the other may have held a book.

16th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

A lama with long hair at the back and thick curls at the front, seated on an antelope skin atop a lotus base decorated with a chased pattern, his legs not quite locked. His outer robe, made of silk embroidered with a floral design, is worn low down to display the elegant knot of his belt. The left hand does the gesture of supreme generosity.

16th century, Tibet, lama, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Millon .

This teacher, seated in the vajra position, does the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture.

14th-15th century (or 16th century?), Tibet?, guru, copper alloy with copper and silver inlay, private collection, photo by Ethereal.This elderly lama’s patched clothes have an unusual border with a large floral motif. The lower part of his lotus seat is also decorated with flowers. His right hand is in the ‘calling Earth to witness’ gesture, symbolising the moment when the historical buddha attained enlightenment.

17th-18th century, Tibet, lama, bronze (brass), at the Minneapolis Institute of Art  (USA).

Depicted in the manner of the 13th-14th century, this lama is seated on a thick cushion with rounded corners and wears his meditation cloak partly off his shoulders, securing it over his legs with his right hand.

Tibet, Green Tara (23)

12th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo on Hardt

Green Tara, flanked by open lotuses, seated on a tall Pala-style lotus base, her right leg pendent, the foot placed on a large lotus stemming from below the lotus seat, her right hand in the gesture of generosity, the left hand bestowing refuge. Her long dhoti is decorated with a stippled lotus motif and there is a flaming jewel on her chignon.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Woolley & Wallis, 22nd May 2018 lot 43.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, sale AU835 lot 33.

Two sculptures with the left hand in the gesture of debate (vitarka mudra), normally associated with the white form of Tara.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy with silver, copper and stone inlay, private collection, photo on Bonhams  .

Green Tara with a day/open lotus and a night/closed lotus, her hair gathered in a top knot adorned with a half-vajra finial, the seams on her stripy dhoti made of copper and silver beading. When her right hand is held down palm out, her left hand normally does the gesture to bestow refute, sometimes the gesture to ward off evil. The above does the fear-allaying gesture.

15th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo on Millon.

18th century, Tibet, Tara, silver with turquoise inlay and cold gold, gilt copper alloy base, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s 

A Mongolian-style silver figure seated on a gilt lotus base, her dhoti and sash richly incised with a floral and vine pattern, her two-tier hair bun topped with a flaming jewel.

Tibet, various kings (4)

15th century (1423), Tibet, The Dharma Kings, clay with pigments, at Gyantse, photo by Amy Heller on asianart

The three dharma kings of Tibet: Songtsen Gampo (6th-7th century), who has an effigy of Amitabha on his head, Trisug Detsen (8th century), Tri Ralpachen/Ralpacan (9th century). Their kingly attire includes a sumptuous silk gown tied with a belt, a scarf, felt boots, an elaborate headdress, a necklace and some earrings

16th century, Tibet, King Pundarika (labelled ‘Kundarika, 2nd King of Jambhala), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Koller .

Pundarika, of whom the dalai lamas are said to be an incarnation, is the second of the kulika or kalki kings (vidhyadharas). He normally holds two lotuses. He is depicted with bare feet and no gown, thus displaying anklets, bracelets and armlets. (More about the kings of Shambala here ).

16th century, Tibet, the rna.chogs,gsugs, bronze, private collection, photo on Nagel 

Probably a king, real or mythical, this character is seated with both legs pendent, on a throne decorated with incisions. He wears kingly attire, felt boots and a cloth covering his head, including his topknot and his ears. The inscription may refer to Vishvamurti (Natshog Zug in Tibetan), the 6th king of Shambala.

17th century, Tibet, King Lha’i Gyalpo, gilt metal, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA), photo  and note on HAR .

This mythical king, seated on a stepped throne with lotus buds at each corner, does a gesture to dispels fear with his right hand and another to bestow patience with the left one.

19th century, Eastern Tibet, Derge, King Gesar, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Bonhams .

A late but illustrative image of King Gesar, who may be have been a real character and who, at any rate, became the protagonist of an epic with different local versions in and around the Himalayan area. In Tibetan art he may wear a tall conical helmet and be seated and dressed like a king. The above is seated on a human hide atop three cushions covered with a blanket.