This endearing figure is coiffed with the lotus hat worn by Karma Kagyu hierarchs, traditionally black and decorated with a visvajra (or a lozenge representing a visvajra) on the front panel, and clouds at the side. The border of his monastic garments is incised with a wavy pattern.
To confuse the issue, this character wears a red lotus hat associated with other hierarchs (such as shamarpas and situpas) and traditionally decorated with jewels at the front, but his displays a visvajra.
17th-18th century, Tibet, labelled ‘possibly the first karmapa’, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Castor Hara.
The first five karmapas are thought to have worn a small black cap before the black lotus hat became their headdress (see the Himalayan Art Resources page on Hats of the Himalayas). This personage wears an ornate foliate crown with rosettes and ribbons, a half-vajra finial on top of his head, beaded jewellery and a ritual apron over his ample silk garments. He holds a vajra and ghanta crossed over his heart. The sculpture probably depicts him performing a ritual ceremony.