In The Art of Nepal, Pratapaditya Pal describes this Samvara has having four heads and six hands, in which he holds a vajra sceptre and a bell (main hands), the hide of an elephant (upper hands), a drum (middle right hand), a water pot (looking rather like a skull cup) and a staff (middle left hand). The four-head form of this deity normally has 12 arms and the three-head form with six hands has the head of a donkey. We did see a 1-head and 6-hand form of Samvara with his consort, holding an elephant hide, vajra and ghanta, drum and skull cup. This is another aspect that may not correspond to any textual source.
16th-17th century, Nepal, Chakrasamvara, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.
This masterpiece depicts Chakrasamvara with 4 heads (each with 3 eyes), 12 hands, 2 legs. He holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands, an elephant hide is missing from his upper hands; the remaining left hands hold a (missing) skull cup, a ritual staff, a noose, a small trident – possibly a later addition as he would normally hold Brahma’s head; the remaining right hands hold a drum, a vajra-handled flaying knife, a (missing) axe, another trident. Following the Luipa tradition, his consort has both legs around his waist; she holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.
The deity’s distinctive hair adornments are a visvajra (showing behind the crown’s central panel), a crescent moon, a sun disc often replaced by a skull (as above) in Malla art, a lotus finial topped with a wish-granting jewel.
On this example the visvajra is placed on top of the chignon to support the jewel and there is an effigy of a buddha at the front of his chignon.
A sculpture complete with its flaming mandorla, decorated with skulls and vajra sceptres and topped with a triratna (triple gem).
The elephant hide in his upper hands has been preserved here. They wear the habitual tiger skin dhoti and garland of severed heads for him, bone apron and garland of skulls for her, as well as long sashes made of raining jewels. He has a Chinese-style scarf with serpentine ends. The main hands hold the preceptive vajra sceptre and bell.
The remaining right hands hold, from top to bottom, a flaying knife, a drum, an axe, a trident which seems specific to Nepal (in Tibet that implement is usually a vajra-handled stick). The remaining left hands hold a skull cup, a ritual staff (khatvanga), a noose, Brahma’s head with four faces.
There is a large vajra finial on his chignon and the artist has placed the skull to his left and the crescent moon on the other side.
The universal form of Samvara, with 17 heads and 72 arms, in embrace with his consort.