Tibet, Vajrapani – Canda (2)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with pigment, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

In his popular canda form wrathful Vajrapani normally brandishes a single thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) in his right hand; the above holds a double one (visvajra). He wears snake ornaments, a tiger skin around his waist, foliate jewellery and matching crown with rosettes, large floral earrings and a celestial scarf. His flaming hair is topped with a lotus bud finial.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, hollow brass with pigments, stone and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

His left hand may do a threatening gesture with the forefinger raised, or a gesture to ward off evil, as above. His tiger skin dhoti is fastened with a snake. His facial hair and mitre-like chignon are painted with orange pigment to signify his wrathful nature.

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, silver with turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral inlay, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

Although this one has lost his attribute, the position of the hands are those of canda Vajrapani.



Tibet, Hayagriva and consort (2)

16th century circa, Tibet, Hayagriva and consort, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, Christie’s.

Standing on victims, the two deities hold a vajra-handled flaying knife and a skull cup and have a horse’s head in their chignon. As is traditional in Tibet, the female’s garland is made of 50 skulls while the male’s is made of 50 freshly severed heads. They are also adorned with an elaborate five-skull crown with foliate panels on top of each skull and turquoise-inlaid jewellery. She wears a bone apron, he wears a tiger skin loin cloth.

17th century circa, Tibet, Hayagriva with Vajravarahi, gilt coper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Of Hindu origin, Hayagriva has various forms and functions in Buddhism and various consorts – the above is Vajravarahi, who has a sow’s head sticking out of her right temple. He has three heads each with three silver-inlaid eyes; six arms, with silver-inlaid bracelets; and four legs, with silver-inlaid anklets. His main hands embrace the consort and hold a skull cup and a noose. The others display a wrathful gesture to ward off evil and may have held some attributes. She holds a skull cup and probably a flaying knife.

18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva and Nairatmya, polychrome clay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Now we see him with Nairatmya, who has blue skin, one head, two arms, and wears a leopard skin skirt. He has red skin and mitre-like flaming orange hair, three heads each with three eyes, a skull crown and a horse’s head above, six hands, from which the attributes are missing, and possibly four legs. One head is red, the other white, and the third should be green. The addition of green wings on his back is an unusual feature.

Tibet, Hayagriva alone (3)

17th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, gilt copper alloy with pigment, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Red Hayagriva has three heads, each with three eyes, three horses’ heads and a five-skull tiara, six hands holding various attributes (most missing here) and eight legs treading on eight nagas, wearing a human hide and an elephant hide across his back, a garland of freshly severed heads around his neck, a Chinese-style cross-belt with long pendants. Four legs are bent and the others are stretched.

18th century circa, Tibet, labelled Hayagriva Sangdrup (from his Tibetan name tan drin sang drup), gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This form of the deity is also known as ‘Secret Accomplishment’ and is a wrathful form of buddha Amitabha. The above wears the tiger skin sideways, the head resting over his right knee as if devouring it, in the Tibetan fashion.

18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, bronze, at the San Diego Museum of Art (USA).

On this parcel-gilt Chinese-style version, the tiger skin is worn with the head of the animal at the back and the tail forming a triangle at the front.

Early 18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, painted wood, at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

On this painted example we can see that each face was painted a different colour. The main one is meant to be green, the others are red and white respectively. Two of his arms are missing, the lower ones hold a thunderbolt sceptre and possibly a bell, the others would have held a sword and a spear or a ritual staff and a lasso made of intestine.

18th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, gilt copper alloy with pigments, published on http://www.pundoles.com

This pot-bellied one-head and two-hand Hayagriva wears his tiger skin loin cloth with the head of the animal over his right knee and the tail at the front. The artist has applied gilding everywhere except the face, giving him a more wrathful aspect. He treads on two victims and is adorned with snakes, including a long one worn as a sacred cord, a five-skull crown, a garland of freshly severed heads, some jewellery and he has a horse’s head on top of his flaming hair.


Tibet, Hayagriva alone (2)

12th-13th century, Tibet, Shadbhuja Hayagriva, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

Hayagriva in his three-head and six-hand form, each head with three eyes, bared fangs, earrings and a tall crown, the hair gathered in a bunch, topped in this instance with 9 horses’ heads instead of just one, clad in a tiger skin dhoti and adorned with snake ornaments, jewellery and a sacred thread made of human hair, standing on eight snakes (nagas) on a double lotus base, a small figure (possibly the donor) fastened to the rim. He holds a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) and a bell (ghanta) in his upper hands, his middle hands do the gesture to hold a lasso and ward off evil, the others may have held a sword and a spear or a ritual staff.

17th century circa, Tibet, Hayagriva, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this more modern work he has one head and two hands and stands on a rocky formation. He wears a long snake as a sacred cord, a celestial scarf, a skull tiara and has a single horse’s head on top of his flaming hair.

Same as before, dark bronze, private collection, photo by Koller.

Following the tradition, he is depicted here with a human hide and an elephant hide across his back. His left hand does a threatening gesture (tarjani) while the other holds a thunderbolt sceptre. He is adorned with a garland of freshly severed heads, snakes, stone-inlaid jewellery (the stones now missing), a five-skull crown and floral earrings. There is a large horse’s head on top of his chignon.

17th century, Tibet, Hayagriva, copper with cold gold and pigments, by Choying Dorje, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

17th century or later, Tibet, possibly Hayagriva, copper with cold gold and pigments, by Choying Dorje or later, Potala Palace collection, published on http://www.asianart.com


Tibet, Makaramukha/Makravaktra

Undated, Tibet, Shri Devi retinue figure, copper alloy, at the Capital Museum in Beijing (China), published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This dakini has a human female body and the head of a makara (half crocodile and half elephant). She is adorned with bracelets, armlets and anklets, and has a human hide over her back and shoulders.  She is one of three animal-faced dakinis along with Simhamukha (lion-headed) and Sarvadulamukha (tiger-headed).

Late 18th century, or early 19th, Tibet, Makaramukha, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

Like most dakinis, she adopts a ‘dancing pose’, one foot in the air, the other trampling on a victim, and wears a five-skull crown. The above  is adorned with a Chinese-style cross belt, bracelets and anklets. The human hide is worn loosely on her back.

17th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, bronze.

Along with the lion-headed Simhavaktra, whom we have discussed in a previous post, Makaravaktra is an attendant to Magzor Gyalmo/Palden Lhamo (a form of Shri Devi much worshipped in Tibet). She is in charge of leading her mule or khyang (Tibetan wild ass). As an attendant, she is smaller than the main figure she accompanies.

18th century, Tibet, Makaravaktra, brass, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

On this example, we can see the arms of the human hide knotted across her chest and the legs dangling against hers.

17th-18th century, Tibet, bardo deity, gilt copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.buddhacollectors.com.

This small makara-headed deity is often confused with Makaramukha, especially because most sculptures are separated from the original set, but, given that she is in charge of leading Shri Devi’s mount, she stands on both feet. Also, she doesn’t wear a skull crown.

18th century, Tibet, labelled dakini Makaramukha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

She usually holds her right hand  above her head, and on this sculpture we can see that she wields a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra).


Tibet, wrathful females (2)

13th century circa, Tibet, dakini, copper alloy, possibly from the Chakrasamavara retinue, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This wrathful dakini holds a skull cup and a flaying knife in her lower hands, a drum and a round object, possibly a fruit, in the upper ones. She is adorned with a five-skull crown , a garland of severed heads, and bone jewellery.

18th century, Tibet, Dakini, gilt copper alloy, at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (USA).

Another ferocious-looking dakini, standing on two victims (one of them with an elephant head and four arms, possibly Ganapati) and holding a flaying knife and skull cup filled with blood.

18th century, Tibet, Bardo deity, private collection, published on http://www.thesaleroom.com

This figure is part of a set of bardo deities, most of them with an animal head (tramen). She stands with one leg on a female victim and wears bone jewellery and a five-skull crown plus a larger skull in her flaming hair. Her flaying knife is missing.


Tibet, Sitatapatra (2)

12th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Tibetan sculptures of the  ‘White Parasol’ are few and usually late ones, those that depict her seated are extremely rare. The above is a three-head and eight-hand version. Her main hands are doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture, the other left hands hold a closed victory banner, a bow, and what looks like a water pot. The lower right hand holds a wheel (cakra), the others probably held a vajra sceptre and an arrow.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, bronze, Van Ham auctions on http://www.lotissimo.com

This Pala revival image depicts Sitatapatra with one head and two hands, the left one folded to support a missing parasol. She may have had a wheel in the other.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Sitatapatra, metal (copper alloy with cold gold and pigments), at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (UK).

The spectacular 1000 heads, 1000 arms and 1ooo legs version includes a parasol (broken here) in one of her main hands.

18th century, Tibet, Sitatapatra, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold (and pigments), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one has lost all her side hands but still has a mirror in her main right hand (the other held the missing parasol).