Nepal, various characters

Circa 14th century, Nepal, Mahasiddha Kirava, terracotta, private collection, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA) https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/38337.

Before acquiring ‘siddhi‘, this Indian master, also known as Kilapa, Kirapalapa and Kiralawapa, was a king and a warrior, hence the sword and shield in his hands. A brief biography can be found on http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php?title=Kiralawapa

Undated (Malla period), Nepal, Padmasambhava, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection.

The Indian teacher is often shown pointing a vajra sceptre to his heart while holding a skull cup with the other.

18th century, Nepal, Padmasambhava, bronze (brass), at the University of Michigan Museum of Art https://exchange.umma.umich.edu/resources/11926/view.

The backplate on this sculpture is typical of the late Malla period, while the design of the lotus petals is associated with Bhutanese art.

18th century, Nepal, ‘fire-gilt bronze of a seated priest’, private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

Unlike Tibetan teachers and monks, this Nepalese character wears a necklace and large earrings, and has both arms covered. He holds a manuscript in his left hand.

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Nepal, wrathful figures

12th-14th century, Nepal (or Tibet?), Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with pigments and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.

Clad in a tiger skin knotted at the front, adorned with snakes, Chanda Vajrapani brandishes a vajra sceptre in his right hand and does a pointing gesture with the other, his lasso now lost.

The above has a small moustache and goatee, bushy eyebrows, his upper fangs bite his lower lip.

Undated (Malla period), Nepal or Tibet, Vajrapani, (copper alloy with cold gold and pigments), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/66746.

He may stands on a victim lying on a bed of snakes, or tread directly on the nagas, which can be side by side or entwined.

15th-16th century, Nepal, Nagaraja, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.

Originally at the top of an arch (we can see the claws of a garuda over his left hip), this naga king has four hands and a hood made of five cobra snakes. He holds a wheel and a sword.

Circa 17th century, Nepal, Shri Shmashana Adhipati, bone plaque, private collection, photo by Bonhams https://www.bonhams.com.

Also known as Chitipati/Citipati, these two skeletal figures are adorned with a skull crown and stand in a dancing posture. Traditionally, she holds a stalk of grain and a long-life vase, he holds a ritual staff and a skull cup.

16th century, Nepal, unidentified, bronze, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste https://www.cambiaste.com.

This entity standing over a snow lion has one head and eight hands, in which he holds a variety of implements including a sword, a drum, what looks like a tridandi with one branch slightly bent, a skull cup, a noose, a ritual staff.  His main left hand does the gesture to bestow refuge. The only one-head and eight-hand male deity we have seen so far is a form of Amoghapasha, who always holds a noose and a tridandi (a trident made of lotus stalks) and may have a sword, but the other attributes are different.

Nepal, Vasudhara (2)

11th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt copper, place and photo credits not quoted, published on wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasudhara.

13th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt copper with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20903/lot/141/.

14th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Michaans https://www.michaans.com.

There is little variation in the one-head and six-hand form of Vasudhara. Her top right hand does a gesture related to music specific to her, the top left holds a book, the next two hands clutch a bunch of jewels and a sheaf of grain, the lower left hand sustains a long-life vase, the lower right hand is held palm out and may support a fruit or a lotus bud.

14th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste https://www.cambiaste.com .

She usually wears a long lower garment, often decorated with a chased or stippled pattern.

This hairstyle of hers is typical of the Malla period.

15th century, Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt copper with stone inlay, private collection, on Woolley and Wallis https://www.woolleyandwallis.co.uk/departments/asian-art/pg220507/view-lot/30/.

Undated (Malla period), Nepal, Vasudhara, gilt metal, private collection, photo by MC Daffos, on aaoarts.com http://www.aaoarts.com/asie.

Khasa Malla Kingdom (19)

13th-14th century, Nepal, Khasa Malla kingdom, Vajrapani, gilt copper, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

Wrathful Vajrapani, wielding a vajra sceptre and holding a vajra bell away from his left hip, standing on a human victim, adorned with a skull crown, snakes and a garland of severed heads. The shape and style of the flaming arch behind him is unique to Khasa Malla art.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Khasa Malla kingdom, Tara, gilt bronze (or copper?) with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

The style of the lotus base on which this Green Tara is seated, the eyebrows drawn in a single line, the design of her accessories, the length of her lower garment (reaching the ankles) its stippled decoration and the way it fans out onto the base are all elements proper to the region and period.

14th century, Nepal, Khasa Malla kingdom, Tara, gilt bronze (or copper?) with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonham’s https://www.bonhams.com.

The hem on this Tara’s garment is decorated with an incised rice grain motif.

There is an effigy of Amitabha on top of her chignon.

Undated (13th-14th century?), Tibet, (Khasa Malla kingdom), Tara, (gilt copper or copper alloy with red pigment around the bottom of the base), photo by MC Huges Dubois http://www.aaoarts.com/asie/enchtibet/tibscu109.html.

The lotus base occasionally has an additional tier (and sometimes two) between the plain plinth and the flowers, decorated with a chased or embossed motif, in this case scrolling vines.

12th-13th century, Tibet, (Khasa Malla kingdom), Shakyamuni, gilt bronze (or copper?), private collection, photo by Nagel https://www.auction.de.

The traces of red paint on both sides of the base, the style of the base itself, the inscription in devanagari script, and the finger joints incised on the outside make it very likely for this figure to have come from the small Khasa Malla kingdom (Western Nepal-Western Tibet, 12th-14th century approximately).

Undated, Tibet, Khasa Malla, Tonpa Shenrab, founder of Bön, gilt copper, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/58313.

The ear ornaments worn by this figure with a buddha appearance are often seen on sculptures of the historical buddha attributed to the Khasa Malla kingdom.

Undated, Tibet, Khasa Malla, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/59028.

This buddha, who wears the same ear ornaments, has a silver crown (possibly added later) inlaid with turquoise and coral and his face is painted with cold gold and pigments, which tells us he was worshipped in Tibet, and possibly made there.

We will note the delineated finger joints, the broad hem with a rice grain motif, the thick beading at the top and tall plain lower part of the lotus base, all typical of Khasa Malla art.

13th-14th century, Nepal or Tibet, Khasa Malla kingdom, Shakyamuni (labelled Akshobhya), gilt copper with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bessie Chen on asianart.com http://www.asianart.com/abc/d10117.html.

Cast separately, this lotus base includes a vajra sceptre signalling the enlightenment of the historical buddha. The figure displays a unibrow, large rice grain motif on the hem, and, above all, marked finger joints on the outside as well as on the inside.

14th century, Nepal, Khasa Malla kingdom probably, Shakyamuni, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos, on http://www.aaoarts.com/asie.

The same applies to this figure, whose hair is topped with a jewel finial.

14th century, Nepal or Tibet, Khasa Malla kingdom probably, gilt bronze with red pigment on the back, private collection, photo by Fabrice Gousset, same as before.

Another distinctive feature is the small round urna placed at the centre of the unibrow (made of red glass or stone in this case). On rare occasions a statue displays many of the Khasa Malla features without the finger joints being delineated on the outside.

Undated (circa 14th century), Nepal, Khasa Malla kingdom, Shakyamuni, gilt metal, photo on Himalayan Art Resources https://www.himalayanart.org/items/32718.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Khasa Malla kingdom (or later Tibetan copy?), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Hanhai Auction https://www.invaluable.co.uk/auction-lot/a-rare-gilt-bronze-figure-of-buddha-shakyamuni-k-214-c-99b4ce3844.

The presence of blue pigment in the hair and the mixture of coral and turquoise indicate this work was made for a Tibetan patron. There are small details in the style of the ear adornments and finial, the body proportions and the gilding which suggest it may have been made at a later date although clearly inspired by the Khasa Malla style. 

Nepal, Amoghapasha Lokeshvara (5)

Circa 17th century, Nepal, Amoghapasha, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Castor Hara on http://castor-hara.com

Amoghapasha in his one-head and eight-hand form, holding from top to bottom a book, a noose (pasha), a lotus bud, and a ritual water pot in his left hands, a (missing) rosary, a trident made of three lotus stalks in two of his right hands, the others held in gestures symbolising reassurance and generosity.

17th century, Nepal, Amoghapasha, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com.

A simpler form with six hands, holding a trident, a noose, a water pot in his left hands, a rosary and a missing object which could be a fly whisk or a lotus in the others, the main right hand doing the fear-allaying gesture.

16th century (1554), Nepal, Amoghapasha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams https://www.bonhams.com.

Amoghapasha with attendants, kinnaras and buddha Amitabha at the top of the arch.

17th century, Nepal, Amoghapasha Lokeshvara, wood, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts.com http://www.aaoarts.com/asie/enchnepal/04.html .

Apart from the popular eight-arm form, there is a one-head and 4, 6 or 12 hands, although Alice Getty mentions one with 20 hands, and also a three-head form with 2,4, 6 or 12 hands. In all cases there is a noose (pasha) in one of his hands, except in the rare one-head and two-hand form where he does a gesture specific to him. His morphology is different from Avalokiteshvara’s, of which he is generally regarded as an aspect. On the Himalayan Art Resources website, Jeff Watts explains why he considers Amoghapasha to be a separate entity https://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=568, yet on the Avalokiteshvara main page he is listed as an aspect of Avalokiteshvara https://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=4822.

 

Nepal, Avalokiteshvara

13th-14th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara (labelled Padmapani), bronze, private collection, photo by Casa Cambi d’Aste https://www.cambiaste.com.

This rare figure holds what looks like a lasso (rather than a rosary) in his upper right hand, the lower one displays the gesture of supreme generosity and has a lotus embossed in the palm. His upper left hand clutches some lotuses, all of which is corresponds to Avalokita, who is normally seated. The lower left hand may have held a lotus bud.

14th-15th century, Nepal or Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, bronze (copper alloy) with gilding, same as before https://www.cambiaste.com.

Padmapani Avalokiteshvara is identified by the lotus in his left hand and the gesture of generosity he does with his right hand. The hairstyle and the bulky jewellery are unusual for the period and place.

Undated (early Transitional Period), Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper?, private collection, photo cabinet Daffos-Estournel on http://www.aaoarts.com/asie .

14th-15th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, (labelled Shiva), bronze, private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste https://www.cambiaste.com.

He may also do the fear-allaying gesture with his right hand. We will note the half vajra on his chignon instead of the usual jewel finial.

15th century, Nepal, bodhisattva, gilt bronze (or brass?), private collection, photo by Cambi Casa d’Aste https://www.cambiaste.com.

The lotus incised in the palm of his right hand and the way he closes the other hand to hold the stem of a lotus (now missing) point to padmapani Avalokiteshvara. He wears a long dhoti, large diamond shaped earrings and a large floral belt  unrepresentative of the Malla period, as are the use of brass and the absence of stone inlay (the figure may have been made by a Nepalese artist in Tibet and/or for a Tibetan patron).

Circa 16th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.This may be a variant of Avalokita, who sometimes holds a book instead of a lotus in his upper left hand. The other hands hold a rosary and a triratna, the remaining one expresses debate or teaching. He too has a half-vajra finial on his chignon.

Circa 17th century, Nepal (labelled Tibet), Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper, at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India) photo on http://collections-of-dokkasrinivasu.blogspot.com/2012/11/indian-museum-picture-post-cards-on.html.

On rare occasions the four-arm form of Avalokiteshvara holds a conch shell in his main hands. The above holds one in his right hand, close to his heart. This sculpture was probably made in the same workshop as a Nepalese Tara we have seen before (reproduced below for comparison).

16th century, Nepal, Tara, gilt copper alloy and gems, at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

18th century, Nepal, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s https://www.sothebys.com.

In the most popular of his four-hand forms, he holds a wish-granting jewel between his main hands, close to his heart, a rosary (missing here) and a lotus in the others.

Nepal, Achala

12th-14th century, Nepal (or Tibet?), Achala, copper alloy with polychromy and (missing) semi-precious stones, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s http://www.sothebys.com .

This early sculpture depicts Blue Achala (who gnaws his lower lip with his upper fangs) wielding a flaming sword and holding a noose. He normally stands on Ganapati or on two victims atop a lotus base (missing here).

He wears a tiger skin loin cloth in the Pala fashion (tight-fitting, no signs of the animal’s head over his right knee or any paws dangling at the front) …

… and is adorned with snakes, including one to tie his mitre-like flaming hair, a low tiara with a beaded rim and fluttering ribbons, a beaded choker, a necklace with round pendants, large earrings and a small scarf.

16th century, Nepal, Achala, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s https://www.christies.com .

This form of Achala is often half kneeling and half crouching, in which case there are no victims on the lotus base, and he may have a human appearance as above but always has a  third eye.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Achala (labelled Manjushri) and consort, grey stone, private collection, photo by Xanadu Gallery on asianart.com https://www.asianart.com/xanadu/gallery4/7.html.

With his consort, Chandamaharoshana, who has both legs around his waist and holds a skull cup and a flaying knife. He holds a folded lasso or noose.

17th-18th c., Nepal, Acala, stone, private collection, photo by Fabrice Gousset,  published on  http://www.aaoarts.com/asie/enchnepal/105.html