Swat Valley, various bodhisattvas (2)

Undated, Pakistan, Swat Valley style, Vajrapani, bronze, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

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.

Undated (9th or 10th century?), Swat Valley, bodhisattva, bronze, private collection, same as before.

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.

Western Himalayas, various bodhisattvas

13th century, Western Himalayas, Vajrapani, brass, is or was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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.

13th-14th century, Western Himalayas, Vajrapani, brass, private collection, on Himalayan Art Resources.

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.

12th century circa, Western Himalayas, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

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.

Undated, Kashmir or Western Himalayas, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

 

Pala India, Vajrapani (2)

11th century, Northeast India, Vajrapani, gilt bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

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.

11th century, Northeast India, Vajrapani, metal, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

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.

12th century, India, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

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.

Pala India, Vajrapani

11th century circa, Northeast India, Vajrapani, copper alloy with copper inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Standing on victims, Vajrapani holds a thunderbolt sceptre horizontally in his right hand and does a gesture to ward off evil with the other while holding a lotus that supports a fertility goddess. His hair is fastened with cobra snakes (nagas) and topped with an effigy of Akshobhya. He has copper-inlaid eyes, urna and accessories and is adorned with snakes.

12th century, India or Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Vajrapani holds the vajra almost vertically and extends his left hand to display a missing attribute, probably a vajra-handled bell (ghanta). He wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth, the head of the animal placed over the right knee.

He has silver-inlaid eyes. His fan-shaped hair is fastened with three nagas, his body is adorned with serpents, including a long one used as a sacred thread.

12th century, Northeast India or Western Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Another example with a tight-fitting animal skin (leopard in this case) with no legs or tail dangling. His left hand does a gesture to ward off evil and hold a (missing) lasso at the same time.

 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (12)

Tibet, Vajrapani, 1600-1700, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (USA).

Wrathful Vajrapani (‘the thunderbolt bearer’) brandishes a thunderbolt sceptre and holds bell upside-down, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth. both feet on twisted snakes (nagas), a garuda in his headdress and two garuda necklaces around his neck.

18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, at the museum of Asian Art in Berlin (Germany).

This other fierce Vajrapani wears a human hide over his back, a garland of freshly severed human heads around his neck, a five-skull crown over his orange flaming hair, snakes and beaded jewellery and the usual tiger skin loin cloth. The artist used lapis lazuli for the eyes, urna and cross-belt.

Undated (16th century circa?), Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt metal, at the Beijing Museum (China).

When not holding a bell, his left hand does a symbolic gesture to keep evil spirits away.

Undated (16th century or earlier), Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, gilt metal with stone and coral inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

When depicted alone this form of wrathful Vajrapani has three heads with three eyes, 2 legs and 4 to 6 hands. There is a long snake in his mouth and main hands and he wears a princely crown on his main head (as opposed to a skull crown). The above has an effigy of a buddha in his headdress, a garland of fifty severed heads around his neck, a skull tiara on his side heads, a vajra in his top right hand.

 

 

 

 

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani (11)

Same as before, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Adorned with snakes and jewellery, this canda Vajrapani has the effigy of a buddha in his mitre-like chignon. The left hand displays the gesture to ward off evil and holds a folded lasso. He treads on two victims.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

A similar form of the deity holding a thunderbolt sceptre and a lasso, adorned with serpents and beaded jewellery and treading on twisted nagas. The undersized head and oversized sceptre may be due to the fact that parts were often cast separately.

Same as before, photo by Christie’s.

This one wears an incised celestial scarf and garland of freshly severed heads. He stands on snakes (nagas) over an incised base over a single lotus.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The above wears his tiger skin loin cloth loosely knotted at the front, the head of the animal seemingly devouring his right knee. There is a vajra finial on his chignon.

18th century,, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, at the British Museum in London (UK).

 

 

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.