This Guge-style sculpture with an athletic body, marked knee caps, a lobed abdomen and a cruciform navel, is very similar to a 1oth-11th century Avalokiteshvara attributed to Western Tibet or Ladakh by the Musée Guimet in Paris and published in a previous post (see below). Vajrapani holds an upright vajra in his right hand and may have had a bell in the other. He is adorned with a long foliate garland, beaded jewellery, sacred thread and matching belt, large floral earrings and a sash worn tightly across the chest. Long strands of hair dyed with blue pigment fall over his shoulders. His transparent dhoti, shorter on one side and with an incised hem, forms a sharp point at the front that almost reaches the pedestal. The eyes are inlaid with silver in the Kashmiri fashion.
Possibly part of a set, this solid-cast figure has the bonhomie of many 11th and 12th century West Tibetan sculptures vaguely inspired by the Indian Pala style. The hair is gathered in a three-tier chignon topped with a lotus bud finial, his low tiara with a single leaf panel is fastened with ribbons forming large bows on each side of the head. He holds an upright vajra in his right hand and a vajra-handled bell in the other at hip level. His knee-length garment, knotted at the back, is decorated with a stippled motif and thick beading on the hem.
Occasionally, this bodhisattva holds the stem of a lotus which supports the attribute and does a symbolic gesture with the other hand.
The tenth karmapa portrayed, in his own particular style, a dishevelled Vajrapani standing on twisted nagas (snakes) over a lotus on a rocky formation supported by two crouching figures.
This group of deities on lotuses is supported by four yakshas accompanied by a snow lion. Instead of being pot-bellied, naked and crouching the yakshas are depicted like atlantes and wear short dhotis. (For more information on yakshas see an article on the Ashmolean Museum website at http://jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/object/EA1995.95).
Manjushri, at the centre, brandishes his sword to cut through ignorance and holds the stem of an open lotus with a manuscript balancing on it.
To his left, Avalokiteshvara does the gesture of supreme generosity with his right hand and holds the stem of a similar eight-petal lotus, the skin of an antelope covers his left shoulder.
Vajrasattva holds a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) and a bell (ghanta) together with the stem of a blue lotus.
A similar triad, with the base missing. Manjushri’s book is supported by a blue lotus, Avalokiteshvara holds the neck of a ritual water pot in his right hand. Vajrapani’s main attribute is missing from his right hand.
On both sets, the blade of Manjushri’s sword is decorated with a geometrical pattern typical of sculptures produced in the Ngari area of Western Tibet around the 12th century.
Here Vajrasattva stands at the centre and Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara are depicted as attendants (smaller size).
NB: when standing, Vajrasattva and Vajrapani may have the same appearance and it is often impossible to know which is which unless an inscription on the base of the sculpture identifies the figure.
This masterpiece depicts Vajrapani in his one-head and two-hand form, wielding a vajra and doing a gesture to ward off evil with his left hand. He has a tiger skin knotted around his waist and a mitre-like hair arrangement, a floral tiara and matching earrings, some beaded jewellery, a thin celestial scarf with serpentine ends that forms a frame around him. The style of the lotus pedestal is typical of Mongolia.
This one wears a long snake as a sacred thread. He does the gesture to keep evil away with both hands.
A different style altogether, with an emphasis on the orange flaming hair and matching eyebrows.
Same type of hair, but topped with a vajra finial and offset by a five-skull crown with foliate panels. The left hand holds a lasso while doing the same gesture as before.
Vajrapani holds a thunderbolt sceptre horizontally away from his chest while his left hand rests against his hip. He displays a fan-shape hair bunch typical of the area now known as Pakistan but worn looser, two different earrings and plain jewellery.
His long dhoti decorated with geometrical incisions, covering the navel and fastened at the back differs from Swat Valley standards, as do the body proportions (less harmonious here). The use of a dark alloy, the ‘strangled’ lotus base without a plinth and the shape of the face correspond to the Swat Valley style.
Seated on a cushion over rocky formation, this bodhisattva holds a water pot in his left hand and a non-identified object in the other. In the absence of a stupa in his headdress it is impossible to know whether this is Maitreya or Avalokiteshvara.
Unless the object in question is a rosary…
Standing on a stepped plinth derived from a Kashmiri design, Vajrapani holds a thunderbolt sceptre horizontally in his right hand, the other is placed on his hip. He wears a dhoti shorter on one side and has large knee caps as in Western Tibet. His eyes are slit horizontally in the style of Himachal Pradesh. The nimbus is incised with flames, the rest of the back plate is plain.
Another mixed-style Vajrapani, with a coiffure very similar to that of an Himachal Pradesh Avalokiteshvara seen in a previous post. He wears a long garland and a short dhoti decorated with a stippled motif between stripes. The flaming arch is topped with a finial.
The character at the centre of this Pala-style triad is Manjushri, easy to identify through his sword and his blue lotus topped with a manuscript (the Prajnaparamita sutra). His attendants (smaller in size) are Vajrapani, who holds an upright vajra in his right hand and has his left hand against his hip, and, on the other side, Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, who holds a lotus as usual but also a water pot in the Gandharan fashion.
Peaceful Vajrapani stands on a small lotus base over a tortoise pedestal engraved with a foliate motif, surrounded by a halo of serrated flames and framed by tall lotuses – one of which supports a vajra-handled bell (ghanta). He holds his other attribute, the vajra, upright at heart level. Gilt sculptures are not typical of Pala art The cold gold and pigments on the face and hair suggest that the statue was worshipped in Tibet at some stage.
The stiff pose, the large central panel on the crown, the squarish face, the brassy metal and the treatment of the face recall works attributed to various western regions of the ancient Tibetan kingdom. Vajrapani holds both attributes in his hands while the lotuses form part of the back plate. Flames are engraved around the mandorla and the tortoise pedestal is decorated with incised geometrical motifs and two elephants at the front.
This figure displays typical Pala elements such as the tiered conical chignon, the swerving torso and the small lotus pedestal, but also West Tibetan elements such as the dhoti shorter on one side, the sash sticking out rigidly at calf level, the morphological disproportion and the way the vajra is fastened to the hand.