Tibet, unidentified bodhisattvas (3)

11th century, Central Tibet, bodhisattva, at the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This bodhisattva does the gesture to hold flowers (kataka mudra) with both hands. He wears an early Nepalese-style foliate crown and a broad sash across the chest.

12th-13th century, Tibet, bodhisattva, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In the absence of any specific attribute, the lotuses on each side of this character are not enough to identify him.

14th century, Central Tibet, bodhisattva, brass, Densatil style, at the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The above has his left hand cupped (gesture of meditation) and does the teaching gesture with the other, holding a pearl or gem between the thumb and forefinger.



Tibet, unidentified bodhisattva (2)

13th-14th century, Tibet, bodhisattva, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This impressive figure with silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips holds the long stem of flowers springing from the base and does the gesture to ward off evil with both hands.

He wears a tall five-leaf crown  inlaid with silver, copper, turquoise and coral.

His long garment is richly decorated with incisions.

His chest is engraved with scrolls and a deity, possibly Vajrayogini.

Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani – standing (5)

Labelled 12th-14th century, Western Himalayas (circa 11th century, Western Tibet or Ladakh?), Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, published on wikipedia commons.

This Guge-style sculpture with an athletic body, marked knee caps, a lobed abdomen and a cruciform navel, is very similar to a 1oth-11th century Avalokiteshvara attributed to Western Tibet or Ladakh by the Musée Guimet in Paris and published in a previous post (see below). Vajrapani holds an upright vajra in his right hand and may have had a bell in the other. He is adorned with a long foliate garland, beaded jewellery, sacred thread and matching belt, large floral earrings and a sash worn tightly across the chest. Long strands of hair dyed with blue pigment fall over his shoulders. His transparent dhoti, shorter on one side and with an incised hem, forms a sharp point at the front that almost reaches the pedestal. The eyes are inlaid with silver in the Kashmiri fashion.

10th-11th century, Western Tibet or ancient Tibetan kingdom of Ladakh, Avalokiteshvara, brass with silver inlay, at Musée Guimet (Paris)

Tibet, peaceful Vajrapani – standing (4)

11rh-12th century, Western Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Koller.

Possibly part of a set, this solid-cast figure has the bonhomie of many 11th and 12th century West Tibetan sculptures vaguely inspired by the Indian Pala style. The hair is gathered in a three-tier chignon topped with a lotus bud finial, his low tiara with a single leaf panel is fastened with ribbons forming large bows on each side of the head. He holds an upright vajra in his right hand and a vajra-handled bell in the other at hip level. His knee-length garment, knotted at the back, is decorated with a stippled motif and thick beading on the hem.

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Capriaquar on http://www.asianart.com.

Occasionally, this bodhisattva holds the stem of a lotus which supports the attribute and does a symbolic gesture with the other hand.

17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, by Chöying Dorje, copper with cold gold and pigments, is or was at Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The tenth karmapa portrayed, in his own particular style, a dishevelled Vajrapani standing on  twisted nagas (snakes) over a lotus on a rocky formation supported by two crouching figures.

Tibet, Manjushri triads

12th century, (West?) Tibet, Tibetan brass tradition, Vajrasattva, Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, brass with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the potala, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This group of  deities on lotuses is supported by four yakshas accompanied by a snow lion. Instead of being pot-bellied, naked and crouching the yakshas are depicted like atlantes and wear short dhotis. (For more information on yakshas see an article on the Ashmolean Museum website at http://jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/object/EA1995.95).

Manjushri, at the centre, brandishes his sword to cut through ignorance and holds the stem of an open lotus with a manuscript balancing on it.

To his left, Avalokiteshvara does the gesture of supreme generosity with his right hand and holds the stem of a similar eight-petal lotus, the skin of an antelope covers his left shoulder.

Vajrasattva holds a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) and a bell (ghanta) together with the stem of a blue lotus.

12th century, Western Tibet, Vajrapani, Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

A similar triad, with the base missing. Manjushri’s book is supported by a blue lotus, Avalokiteshvara holds the neck of a ritual water pot in his right hand. Vajrapani’s main attribute is missing from his right hand.

On both sets, the blade of Manjushri’s sword is decorated with a geometrical pattern typical of sculptures produced in the Ngari area of Western Tibet around the 12th century.

11th-12th century, Tibet, Manjushri, Vajrasattva, Avalokiteshvara, brass, Tibetan brass tradition, is or was at the Lima Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Here Vajrasattva  stands at the centre and Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara are depicted as attendants (smaller size).

NB: when standing, Vajrasattva and Vajrapani may have the same appearance and it is often impossible to know which is which unless an inscription on the base of the sculpture identifies the figure.

Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – seated (2)

14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani (lotus bearer) form, with an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, metal, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

The bodhisattva of compassion is seated at royal ease (see the new section on leg poses added to the Hand Gestures page in the left-hand column of this blog), his right arm resting over the raised knee, the left arm placed on the lotus base. We can see the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder and an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, two attributes of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form. He may have held the stem of a lotus, now missing, in his left hand.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay and pigment, private collection, photo by Koller.

This Avalokiteshvara has no effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, no antelope skin, no lotus, and no crown, yet the Khasarpana form would have matted hair cascading and both hands doing the dharmacakra (turning the wheel of dharma) gesture.  It may be that he has lost his crown or that this is a lesser known of the very many forms of this deity.

17th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, also labelled ‘Male on a cow’, by Chöying Dorje, copper and cold gold, is or was in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The rosary in his right hand and the lotus in the other identify this figure as Avalokiteshvara. The very creative 1oth karmapa has given him an unusual hairstyle sometimes seen on sculptures of Tara, which consists in gathering all the hair in a bunch worn on one side.


Tibet, standing Maitreya (5)

Circa 11th century, Western Tibet, Maitreya, (labelled Manjushri), copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Maitreya is identified by the stupa in his headdress and the water pot in his left hand. He stands on a Kashmiri-style base, complete with its flaming mandorla, but several characteristics proper to Western Tibet, such as the stippled lotus motif on his dhoti, worn much longer on one side, the thick floral garland that reaches his ankles and the style of his jewellery, indicate that the piece was not made by a Kashmiri artist, who would have given him a cruciform navel instead of punched hole.

18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, polychrome wood, modern base, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.