Tibet, Manjushri – various forms (9)

12th century, Tibet, Manjushri, painted wood, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A very old and well preserved wooden sculpture of a peaceful bodhisattva flanked by blue lotuses, each supporting a manuscript. His right hand does the gesture to bestow refuge but with the forefinger and the middle finger twisted.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Dharmasankha Samadhi Manjushri, brass, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Until now we have only seen one other Tibetan sculpture depicting this rare form of White Manjushri seated in the vajra position with both hands in the gesture of meditation. He is flanked by blue lotuses supporting a manuscript to his right and a half vajra sceptre to his left and wears princely accessories, a long lower garment and a sash across his chest.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Manjushri, brass with turquoise inlay, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A Pala-style White Manjushri seated in a relaxed manner and leaning on his left arm. This form of the bodhisattva normally does the fear-allaying gesture with his right hand but in this instance his right arm and hand are resting against his raised leg. He holds the stem of a blue lotus supporting a manuscript and the blue lotus on the other side supports the hilt of a sword.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Manjushri (labelled ‘bodhisattva’), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 9822 lot 114, London.

From the 13th century onwards he is usually depicted with his his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ and flanked by lotuses or with lotuses fastened to his arms, the one to his right supporting the hilt of a sword, the other supporting the Prajnaparamita sutra (either of them barely visible here).

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Arapachana, Manjushri, bronze, at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, photo HAR .

The bodhisattva of wisdom seated on a lotus base with his legs locked, brandishing a sword in his right hand and holding a book in the other, upright and at heart level. He wears a long dhoti, a small tiara and princely jewellery.

15th-16th century (Tibet or Nepal?), Manjushri, gilt bronze, private collection photo on Ethereal .

Namasangiti Manjushri with one head and four arms, seated in the vajra position and holding a sword and a bow in his upper hands, an arrow and a book in the lower ones, the latter before his heart, as described in the sadhanamala tantra.

Unlabelled, (circa 13th century?, Tibet, Namasangiti Manjushri, brass with cold gold and pigment), Seer Photographic Collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources .

A singular work featuring Manjushri with one head and four arms, his lower right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity, the upper one brandishing a sword, his (rather large) lower left hand clutching the stem of a blue lotus, the remaining hand holding a book before his heart. He is adorned with a crown, princely jewellery and a garland of blue lotuses (utpala).

Tibet, Shri Devi (10)

15th century, Tibet, Densatil, Lhamo, copper alloy, photo by Bruce M. White on Michael Carlos Collection at the Emory University in Atlanta (USA).

This is probably Dorje Rabtenma, who sits on a prostrate kiang, brandishes a sword (of which only the hilt remains) in her right hand and holds a mongoose in her left hand (missing here). She is adorned with a skull crown, a garland of severed heads, snakes and bone jewellery. Around her are 17 deities with a yaksha appearance (9 to her right and 8 to her left), five of them seated on a prostrate kiang like her, a sixth riding a bird, the others seated in a relaxed manner on a lotus, most of them holding a skull cup and a flaying knife (see close up on Himalayan Art Resources ).

18th century, Tibet or Mongolia, Shri Devi, brass with cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Also with 1 head and 2 hands, the popular Magzor Gyalmo rides her mount across a sea of blood, on the surface of which body parts are floating. She sits sideways, using the hide of her son as a saddle, and holds a vajra-tipped sandalwood staff in her right hand and a skull cup full of magical weapons in the other, at heart level. She is further identified by the crescent moon in her hair, the parasol on top of it, and the sun disc over her navel.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, painted stone, private collection, photo on Lot Art  .

Magzor Gyalmo, her skin blue-black, her orange flaming hair topped with a parasol.

18th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, gilt bronze with stones and pigment, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s  .

Magzor Gyalmo, adorned with a skull crown, a garland of severed heads, snakes and bone jewellery, her magical weapons tied with snakes to her kiang: a couple of dice, a bag of disease and a bundle of red curses (under her right foot), a ball of variegated wool (under her left foot), a tally stick i usually attached to her girdle.

15th century, Tibet, Shri Devi, stone with pigments, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Dudsolma, the four-arm form of Palden Lhamo, protectress of Tibet and patron of Lhasa, also sits sideways on a kiang (or a donkey or mule) crossing a sea of blood, using the hide of her dead son as a saddle and displaying her magical weapons. Her attributes vary but always include a skull cup in one of her lower hands. The above holds a sword and a spear in her upper hands, a flaying knife in the lower left hand.

Tibet, Jambhala – various forms (6)

14th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala, brass with turquoise and coral inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Alone, naked and ithyphallic, Black Jambhala is adorned with snakes and holds a skull cup in his right hand and a jewel-spitting mongoose in the other while standing on a male wealth deity.  The artist has inlaid the eyes with silver to accentuate his ferocious look, his upper fangs bite his lower lip, his Indian-style chignon is topped with a skull. According to textual sources he doesn’t wear any jewellery but many sculptures include earrings and a necklace. The victim vomits a jewel and holds a large jewel in his right hand and a jewel-spitting mongoose in the other.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala, brass, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A very rare example of him seated, his right leg pendant, the foot placed on a conch shell, the victim under him vomiting jewels and holding an elongated object (jewel?) in each hand. There is an effigy of a buddha, possibly Ratnasambhava, in his headdress and he wears a loin cloth, a rare feature which we have seen on a couple of early Tibetan works.

Undated, Tibet, Black Jambhala, stone, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

On this stele, much worn by centuries of devotion, he is surrounded by flames and  crushes elephant-headed Ganapati. He is adorned with snakes and large earrings and also wears a loin cloth.

18th century, Tibet, Black Jambhala, stone, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Galleries .

Here the victim vomits many small jewels, and so does the mongoose in his left hand. Jambhala is adorned exclusively with snakes, including one to tie his mitre-like flaming hair.

17th century, Tibet, Jambhala, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Drouot .

17th century (or earlier?), Tibet, Red Jambhala (labelled ‘Jambhala and Vajradhara), brass (with traces of cold gold, turquoise and coral), photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

This is a very rare sculpture of Red Jambhala in his 3-head, 6-hand and 4-leg form, without his consort, standing on two yakshas who vomit jewels. He holds a jewel-spitting mongoose in each of his lower hands, a skull cup filled with gems and a flaming jewel in his main hands, a hook and a lasso or snare (both missing) in his upper hands.

18th century, Tibet, White Jambhala, copper alloy, The Scanlan Collection

Portable sculptures of White Jambhala are usually late ones. He has one head with three eyes and flaming hair, 2 hands and 2 legs, and mounts a dragon or a snow lion, more rarely a mongoose. He may wield a sword in his right hand and hold a mongoose in the other as above (both attributes now lost) or brandish a stick or a trident in his right hand and a club adorned with jewels in the other.

Tibet, famous lamas (21)

18th century, Tibet, Marpa, lacquered wood with cold gold and pigments, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The famous translator Marpa Chokyi Lodro (11th century), instantly recognisable with his layman’s clothes, his thick hair, short neck and distinctive facial features, is often depicted with his hands over his knees.

18th century, Tibet, Gampopa, lacquered wood with cold gold and pigments, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A young Gampopa Sonam Rinchen (11th century) wearing the full monastic garb and coiffed with the red Kagyu hat. Originally a student of medicine, he became a monk at an early age after losing his wife and child.

18th century, tibet, Longchenpa, painted clay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This Nyingma lama, who lived during the 14th century, wrote a comprehensive book on buddhism in Tibet and is regarded as a manifestation of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Sonam Lhundrup, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The famous abbot of Mustang, who is usually shown as a rotund and balding man, does the ‘turning the wheel of law’ gesture with his hands. He has silver-inlaid eyes (with no pupils), copper-inlaid lips, and the border of his garments has silver and copper inlaid motifs.

16th century, Tibet, Tangton Gyalpo, brass, photo on Fondatian Alain Bordier as before , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

The great Tibetan engineer Tangtong Gyalpo, his hair gathered in a topknot with a finial, his  chest bare, the shoulders covered with a meditation cloak, his right hand in the gesture of debate (vitarka mudra) and holding a pill between thumb and forefinger. He would normally have a long-life vase in his left hand rather than another pill.

17th century, Tibet, dpag.bsam dbang.po, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17719 lot 232, Paris.

Pagsam Wangpo, who lived during the first part of the 17th century, is identified by an inscription on the base. He wears the tall fan-shaped hat of the Drukpa order and does the gesture of generosity with his right hand. The left hand is in the gesture of debate.

18th century, Tibet, Dragpa Gyaltsen, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Galerie Zacke  .

Dragpa Gyaltsen is depicted as a deified lama, holding a vajra sceptre and a vajra bell in his hands together with the stem of lotuses that support he hilt of a sword and a manuscript. It is the first time we see him with a hat; it has a lotus and jewel finial and is decorated at the front with a visvajra symbol.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Drukpa Kunley, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

Like other tantric practitioners with eccentric teaching methods, this lama has sometimes been regarded as mad and outrageous yet he became a prominent member of the Tibetan monastic community, and the patron saint of Bhutan – where he is associated with fertility rituals. On this copper plaque he is accompanied by devotees.

Tibet, lamas and their hats (4)

13th-14th century, Tibet, lama (labelled ‘buddhist monk), brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A singular and remarkable sculpture of a Tibetan teacher dressed in a layman’s clothes (not all lamas are monks) and wearing a cap or a fur hat. The lotus seat is supported by a stepped throne covered with a cloth and decorated with a dharma wheel at the front.

14th century, Tibet, lama, stone with traces of cold gold and red pigment, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères.

This lama with a pandita hat and the full monastic garb sits on an unusual lotus seat and holds a rosary, twisted in a 8-shape, in both hands. The long lappets of his headgear fall over his shoulders.

17th century, Tibet, Sakya monk, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The lappets are sometimes folded and crossed at the apex. This lama is seated on  two cushions, the lower one decorated with three upright vajra sceptres. He points a vajra sceptre towards his heart.

18th century, Tibet, lamas, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 14259, Paris.

The pandita hat is worn exclusively by monks and its height varies a lot from one sculpture to the other. The character on the left holds a manuscript in his left hand, the other has the stem of a lotus topped with a book and a flaming jewel in his right hand.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The Kagyu hat is tall and semi-circular at the back, folded at the sides, and usually has a symbol on the front part. This teacher has silver-inlaid eyes, copper-inlaid lips, and both metals were used to decorate his hat. There is a vase of longevity in his left hand.

15th century, Tibet, Kagyu lama, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo  here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A singular portrait of a tantric practitioner with a wide gaze, seated on an antelope skin, his right hand calling Earth to witness, the other in the gesture of meditation may have supported a book. We can see a yogic belt made of copper across his chest, a bracelet and an armlet on his right arm, a choker round his neck and earrings or earplugs in his ears.

18th century, Tibet, Drukpa Kagyu lama, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Andrew Lau for Hollywood Gallery on issuu .

See more on hats of the Himalayas on Himalayan Art Resources .

Tibet, Achala – various forms (5)

11th-12th century, Tibet, (Blue) Achala, brass with turquoise and coral inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Achala is depicted standing on a lotus with his right leg bent, the foot crushing elephant-headed Ganapati, and his left leg straight, the foot crushing a human victim not normally featured. He brandishes a flaming sword and does a threatening gesture (tarjani mudra) while holding a lasso. His mitre-like hair is tied with a large naga and topped with an effigy of Akshobhya. The sculpture includes an open flaming arch and a singular openwork base.

13th century, Tibet, Nila Achala, brass with silver, copper, turquoise and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This is the same aspect of Achala, whose distinctive feature is the upper fangs biting his lower lip. The effigy of Akshobhya is at the front of his mitre-like chignon and he is adorned with cobra snakes, large hoops and a short necklace. He wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loincloth, the head of the animal appearing to devour his right knee, the tail dropping down his left leg.

13th century, Tibet, Blue Achala (labelled ‘White Achala’), brass with cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Blue Achala may also have a human appearance (with three eyes) and be half kneeling and half crouching, in which case there is no victim on the lotus base. The above wears a knee-length lower garment with a lotus print, a heavy belt that reaches the base and various items of princely jewellery. There is also a 4-arm version with one or four heads.

14th century, Tibet, White Achala, white stone, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum as before.

White Achala has two arms and one head with three eyes and a gaping mouth. He may stand or kneel, usually on 2 victims, and normally has orange flaming hair with an effigy of Akshobhya, snake ornaments and a tiger skin dhoti. The above has none of these features and holds his lasso towards his heart.

Tibet, Karmapas (9)

13th century, Tibet, 1st Karmapa, brass with silver and copper inlay, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This masterpiece depicts Düsum Khyenpa seated on a throne covered with a cloth and decorated with a dharma wheel at the front, his right hand extended in the gesture of supreme generosity, the other may have held a manuscript. He wears the full monastic garb, including a thick woollen meditation cloak, and the distinctive hat worn by karmapas.

16th century, Tibet, 1st Karmapa, painted wood, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

On this later portrait the hierarch does the gesture of calling Earth to witness with his right hand. We can see a summary visvajra symbol at the front of his hat.

14th century, Tibet, karmapa, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This unidentified karmapa is seated on a throne supported by lions and yakshas and decorated with a triple gem surrounded with flames (triratna) at the front. His cloak is made of strips of fabric with a lotus pattern also visible on the border of his vest.  Instead of lying flat on the fabric, the sun disc and a crescent moon symbol at the top of this hat have been sculpted separately.

15th century, Tibet, 3rd karmapa, gilt brass, photo same as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Rangjung Dorje, seated in the vajra position, his bare feet showing, his hands placed over his knees.

16th century, Tibet, 3rd karmapa, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

The same man, his legs wrapped in his cloak, his (rather large) hands also placed over his knees, his tall hat topped with a lotus bud finial.

16th century, Tibet, karmapa, silver, photo on as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Probably designed for a portable shrine, this small image (5 cm tall) depicts a hierarch with a manuscript placed sideways in his left hand. His right hand does an unusual downwards gesture, possibly a variant of the gesture of debate/teaching. Despite the small size, the artist has taken the trouble to sculpt the creases of the vest, the folds of the patched outer garment, the visvajra at the front of the hat and the lotus bud on top of it.

18th century, Tibet, 8th karmapa, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Mikyo Dorje, a manuscript in his left hand.

16th century, Tibet, 9th Karmapa, painted wood, photo and location as before.

Wangchuk Dorje is seated on a single cusion with a large vajra sceptre motif. There is a manuscript in his left hand.

18th century, Tibet, karmapa, wood, photo as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This elderly man has both hands in the gesture of meditation and may have held a long-life vase or another attribute.