Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (6)

Possibly 13th-14th century, Tibet or India?, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This Pala-style figure depicts the most popular of the eight medicine buddhas, seated with his legs locked, his right hand palm out to hold an arura fruit (missing here), the left hand in the meditation gesture and supporting an object, normally a medicine bowl (which has often lost its lid or perhaps never had one). The hem of his robe is decorated with a small triangular pattern imitating sun rays.

Circa 14th century, Tibet or Nepal, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

The Nepalese style includes rich gilding, a lower pedestal and during the 13th-14th century buddhas may have rosettes above their ears. The use of copper alloy rather than copper and blue instead of black pigment in the hair points to a Nepalese artist in Tibet.

18th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy with traces of cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This late work illustrates changes in the way buddha’s garments are worn.

Described as a lotus and a skull cup, his attributes are in fact a long-stemmed arura fruit in his left hand (whose palm is engraved with a lotus within a diamond shape, matching the lotuses on the hem of his robe) and a bowl in his left hand.

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Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (5)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The medicine buddha holds the stem of an arura fruit (Terminalia Chebula) in his right hand. His left hand, in the meditation gesture, would have held a bowl.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel auctions.

This one holds a small fruit and a medicine jar with a lid.

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His hair is made of very large beading set wide apart. There is a particularly large raised urna on his forehead.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This curious buddha with noticeable eyebrows, holds a smooth egg-shaped fruit and a small medicine jar with a lid, the hem of his sanghati and inner robe are decorated with beading and piping.

same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Another type of draping, broad hems decorated with an incised pattern, a turquoise-inlaid urna and elongated earlobes.

18th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (4)

14th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum.

14th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA).

With no bowl or arura fruit in his hands, the iconography is similar to that of Ratnasambhava, but the latter is almost always depicted in a bodhisattva form, and some of the fingers are raised as if to hold an object so we assume we are looking at the medicine buddha.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This is clearly him, holding his attributes, his sanghati draped so as to cover both shoulders while leaving an arm free.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA).

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA).

The above has turquoise-inlaid rosettes and urna, and there is also a turquoise cabochon at the tip of his garment, over his left shoulder.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, copper alloy, at the Stockholm Museum of World Cultures (Sweden).

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, copper alloy, at the Världskultur Museerna in Stockholm (Sweden).

On this Pala-revival version, Bhaisajyaguru holds the stem of a plant (presumably an arura) in his right hand and a medicine bowl in the other.

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His hair is arranged in concentric rows of thick curls topped with a chignon and a lotus bud finial.

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (3)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Medicine bowl and arura fruit in hand, his chignon topped with a lotus bud finial, Bhaisajyaguru seems to tell us he has a remedy for every ailment.

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel auctions.

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel auctions.

This is a similar style, with thick beading on the hem of his sanghati.

Same as before, photo by Sotheby's.

Same as before, photo by Sotheby’s.

Here, the robe is draped in the Chinese fashion and has a broad hem decorated with incisions and beading. His medicine pot comes complete with a lid.

18th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland).

A sturdy figure with big limbs, thick hair curls, a large urna and finial, his garments wrapping his body tightly, the hem decorated with an incised pattern, reminiscent of earlier Khasa Malla works.

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru (2)

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Bhaisajyaguru holds a medicine jar in his left hand and a small arura fruit in the other.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Arura (often called ‘myrobalan’, which is a generic term referring to various plants) is used in Tibetan medicine for its healing properties. The above figure holds a particularly large fruit. On most sculptures the fruit looks like a large seed in the palm of his hand.

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

16th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

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He normally has a raised urna on his forehead (which is meant to be a lock of hair, not a third eye).

Undated (18th century?), probably Tibeto-Chinese, Bhaisajyaguru, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Undated (18th century?), probably Tibeto-Chinese, Bhaisajyaguru, at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

 

 

Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru

Of the 8 medicine buddhas, Bhaisajyaguru (named after a sutra) is the main one. He may be alone or with the other medicine buddhas and Shakyamuni or with Prajnaparamita, or in a set of 51 deities. He has one head, two hands, and wears monastic garments.

12th century circa, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

12th century circa, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This rare work depicts him seated on a brocaded cushion over a tall double-lotus base typical of Pala India. The eyes are inlaid with silver, the lips, nails, hem of the sanghati, and other features are inlaid with copper.

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The lotus petals go round the back of the pedestal.

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There is a leonine face with copper-inlaid eyes at the front of the cushion. In some texts, he is said to hold a lotus in each hand but here he only holds flowers in his right hand.

13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

13th century, Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

More often, he is shown holding a begging bowl in his left hand held in the meditation gesture and a fruit in the palm of his right hand.

Undated (probably 14th century), Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (probably 14th century), Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

His head is always topped with a lotus bud finial.

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15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The fruit he holds is a variety of myrobalan known as arura. The above wears his sanghati over both shoulders although the right arm and breast are uncovered. The hem is decorated with beading and an incised geometrical pattern. The lower part of the lotus base is decorated with incised scrolls.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, same as before.

15th century, Tibet, Bhaisajyaguru, gilt copper alloy, same as before.

 

 

 

 

 

Pala India, various buddhas

11th century circa, Northeast India, Akshobhya, copper and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th century circa, Northeast India, Akshobhya, copper and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The elephant throne on which he sits and the thunderbolt which he holds horizontally in his right hand tell us that this is buddha Akshobhya, adorned with simple jewellery, his thin celestial scarf flowing upwards.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Amitabha, copper alloy with copper, silver and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie's.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Amitabha, copper alloy with copper, silver and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Amitabha holds his hands in the dhyana mudra to hold a begging bowl, adorned with jewellery, a celestial scarf, a sacred thread and a garland of flowers – very rarely seen on a buddha.

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His jewellery, the central panel of his crown and the jewel finial on his chignon are inlaid with turquoise, the rim of his crown, his jewellery and the lotus base are inlaid with copper and silver, his eyes and urna with silver, the lips with copper. There are traces of cold gold on his warm smiling face and of lapis lazuli powder in his hair.

12th century, Northeast India, Vajrasattva, bronze, private collection.

12th century, Northeast India, Vajrasattva, bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Vajrasattva holds an upright thunderbolt (vajra) in his right hand and a vajra-handled bell (ghanta) in the other, against his hip.

Same as before, brass, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th-12th century, Northeast India, Bhaisajyaguru, brass, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

One of the eight medicine buddhas, Bhaisajyaguru holds a myrobolan fruit in the palm of his right hand and a (missing) begging bowl in the other. He sits on a double-lotus base framed by an arch decorated with (from bottom to top) monkeys, viyalas, apsaras, anatidae, flowers, and the head of a mythical creature that recalls the goat’s head of the sharabha (see the animals and mythical creatures category in the right hand margin).