Tibet, Wrathful Vajrapani with bell

12th-13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, Nilambadhara, brass with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Marcel Nies.

In one of his most common forms, wrathful Vajrapani brandishes his main attribute and presses a bell against his left side. He is adorned with the eight snake ornaments (no skull crown and no garland of severed heads) and usually treads on an elephant-headed demon lying on snakes (Bhut Aparajita). The above wears a foliate crown, large earrings and snakes, his tiger skin loin cloth is held in place with a cloth belt. The petals on the pedestal are engraved rather than sculpted, which helps date the piece.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with stones, private collection, photo by Hayman Himalayan Art.

A similar appearance, with two figures on the pedestal, who represent ego and ignorance.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, black stone, private collection, photo by Renaud Montméat.

In theory, he never wears a skull crown but he may have a garuda in his headdress. This one wears a five-skull tiara and there is a garuda at the top of the arch behind him.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

The bell is often held upside-down.

 

 

 

 

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Tibet, Vajrapani – chanda (3)

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Polyauction.

Tibet has produced a large variety of wrathful Vajrapani sculptures. Apart from brandishing his main attribute, a vajra sceptre, in his canda/chanda form he holds a lasso in his left hand while doing a threatening gesture. On rare occasions, he squats rather than having one leg straight.

Undated, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy, Katimari collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This one is adorned with nothing but snakes and his red flaming hair is tied with a large cobra.

15th-16th century?, Tibet, Vajrapani (labelled Achala), copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

He may have a half-vajra finial on his hair.

16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Polyauction.

The above has an effigy of Akshobhya in his headdress and sports curly eyebrows, moustache and beard.

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo on HImalayan Art Resources.

Traditionally, he stands on a victim lying on a bed of snakes, here there seems to be two.

His eyes and teeth are inlaid with silver.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by 25 Blythe Road.

Like the first figure in this post, this one is squatting. His flaming hair is tied with a snake and adorned with a floral tiara.

He wears his tiger skin loin cloth with the head, the paws and the tail all dangling at the front.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This Chinese-style work depicts him with a very angry face, spiky flaming hair that stand up on his head way above the crown, and an equally spiky flaming arch behind him.

Undated (late Pala revival?), Tibet, Vajrapani, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (USA).

The tiger skin on this Pala-style sculpture is worn like a pair of shorts. We have seen early examples in the Indian section of this blog.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, parcel-gilt copper, private collection, photo by Vajragallery.

Undated (18th-19th century?), Tibet, Chanda Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy) with paint, at the Yale University Art Gallery (USA).

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – Mahacakra (2)

14th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, Mahacakra, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Mahacakra Vajrapani with three heads and six hands, a long snake in his mouth and  main hands, the top right hand wielding a vajra sceptre, clad in a tiger skin loin cloth, his flaming hair tied with a snake. He embraces his consort, who holds a skull cup and a flaying knife; she wears a leopard skin loin cloth and has a leg around his waist. The couple tread on two victims who represent ego and ignorance.

15th century (circa 1430), Central Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, made by Sonam Gyaltsen, photo by Bonhams.

On this Nepalese-style masterpiece, they have black hair.

and she wears a bone apron over a silk garment decorated with a floral pattern and auspicious symbols.

15th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, Mahacakra, gilt copper, private collection, photo by castor-hara.

Whether with his consort or alone, his main right hand does a gesture to dispel fear, the left one expresses generosity.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, possibly mahacakra, gilt copper alloy with stones, private collection, photo by Xanadu.

Although one arm and the snake are missing, the position of the hands and the vajra sceptre he wields suggest this is wrathful Vajrapani in his mahacakra form.

18th-19th century, Tibet, Mahacakra Vajrapani, bronze (copper alloy), at the British Museum in London (UK).

Nepal, Late Malla – wrathful figures

16th century, Nepal, Achala, gilt copper alloy with gems, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

Blue Achala, his upper fangs biting down his lower lip, half kneeling half crouching, brandishes a sword and holds a (missing) noose or lasso. His leopard skin loin cloth is held in place with a sash studded with gems, like his crown and other accessories, a celestial scarf with floral attachments flowing on each side of him.

17th century, Nepal or Tibet, Chandamaharoshana Achala (labelled Mahacandaroshana), gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

Extremely rare in sculpture, this form of Blue Achala half kneeling half crouching and dressed in a tiger skin loin cloth may have two or four hands and is usually in embrace with his consort, who wears a bone apron and has both legs around his waist. In the two- hand form he brandishes a sword (broken here) in his right hand and holds a noose in the other; his consort holds a skull cup and there would have been a flaying knife in her missing hand. On the Nepalese paintings published on the Himalayan Art Resources website he has a garland of severed heads around his neck and she has a garland of skulls.

16th century, Nepal, Vajrabhairava, ekavira, gilt bronze, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

The only form of Yamantaka with a buffalo head has 9 faces, 34 hands and 16 legs that tread on gods, birds and other animals. The central head at the top is Manjushri’s. His main hands clutch a flaying knife and a skull cup, the others hold a variety of wrathful implements and Brahma’s head with four faces.

17th century (1632), Nepal, Krodha Vighnantaka, stone, at the Berkeley Art Museum (USA), photo from the Pacific Film Archive.

Krodha Vighnantaka is depicted alone, in his three-head six-hand form, treading on Ganapati. His main hands do a gesture to subdue demons, the remaining right hands hold a visvajra on a stick and a lotus bud, the remaining left hands hold a solar wheel typical of Malla art and a lasso.

Circa 18th century (or earlier?), Nepal, Vajrapani, black stone, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

Same deity, same aspect, with a flaming arch around him.

18th century, Nepal, Mahakala, stone, private collection, photo credits not quoted, published on pinterest.

Mahakala in is popular panjara nata form, a danda stick resting across his arms, a flaying knife and skull cup in his hands, squats on a victim atop a throne covered with a cloth and supported by two snow lions. His flaming hair is tied with a snake and adorned with an effigy of Akshobhya and a skull crown. he wears large floral earrings, a Late Malla style necklace, a garland of skulls, foliate bracelets and anklets.

 

Nepal, early Malla – wrathful figures

14th century, Nepal, White Achala, gilt copper alloy, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

Half kneeling and half crouching, Achala brandishes a sword above his head and holds a lasso in the other hand, with the fingers doing a gesture to ward off evil.

14th century, Nepal, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and pigment, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

A rare Vajrapani with a human face with three eyes, holding a vajra sceptre and a skull cup, standing on two victims, wrapped in a tiger skin loin cloth (the head of the animal against his left thigh), adorned with princely jewellery studded with gems, a festooned belt, a sacred thread and a garland of severed heads, standing under an arch decorated with vajra sceptres between two rows of thick beading.

13th or 14th century, Nepal, Hevajra, kapaladhara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Pundoles.

This meditational deity is usually depicted in embrace with a consort whose identity varies. He has several “eight-head and sixteen hand” forms, the most popular being Guhyasamaja Hevajara, who holds skull cups (kapaladhara aspect) containing animals in his right hands and skull cups containing deities in the other, his four legs standing on victims.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Samvara and Vajravarahi, gilt bronze with pigments, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Chakrasamvara, with four heads and twelve hands, embraces his consort with his main hands, in which he holds a vajra sceptre and a bell. His upper hands hold an elephant hide stretched across his back, the other hands traditionally hold a drum, an axe, a flaying knife, a vajra-handled stick to his right, a skull cup, a noose, Brahma’s head with four faces, a staff, to his left, some of them missing here.

14th century, Nepal, chaturbhuja Mahakala, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

Mahakala in his four-hand form, holding a (broken) sword in his upper right hand, a skull cup and a flaying knife in his main hands, a (broken) staff in the upper left hand, seated on a suffocating victim, his right foot placed on a lotus stemming from the base. This iconography seems to have been favoured in Nepal. In Tibet the hands are often placed differently and hold a lotus bud (or a coconut) shaped like a human heart instead of a flaying knife.

 

Nepal, early Malla bodhisattvas

13th century, Nepal, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

The small vajra sceptre placed on the lotus he holds gives us the identity of this bodhisattva, who displays a similar symbol on the rim of his crown. His right hand does a gesture that denotes knowledge (jnana mudra), his left hand bestows refuge (the tip of the ring finger is pressed against the tip of the thumb, the other fingers are erect).

15th century, Nepal, Vajrapani, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This one, with a rather doll-like appearance, displays the gesture of supreme generosity with his right hand.

Circa 14th century, Nepal, bodhisattva, gilt copper with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Kapoor Galleries.

This could be Manjushri, in which case he would have held a manuscript, or the stem of a lotus topped with a manuscript, in his left hand.

14th-15th century, Nepal, bodhisattva, gilt copper with repoussé back panel, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Nepal, a few bodhisattvas (2)

11th century, Nepal, Vajrapani, gilt copper with pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, photo by Ulrich von Schroeder.

An interesting image of Vajrapani holding a large vajra sceptre upright in his left hand while doing the fear-allying gesture with the other, his face (painted in Tibet) including an unusual third eye. His dhoti is much shorter on one side and doesn’t have the habitual pointed end at the front, his sash is knotted on the right side in a singular and innovative fashion.

9th-10th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Carlo Cristi.

The bodhisattva of wisdom held a now missing manuscript in his cupped hand. He is adorned with his usual three-tooth pendant, some large floral earrings and matching necklace, armbands and bracelets. His right hand displays the fear-allaying gesture and there is a stippled lotus in the palm. He wears a long dhoti with more stippled lotuses and a plain sash across his chest.

Circa 10th century, Nepal, Manjushri, siddhaikavira, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This form of Manjushri may be seated or standing, the left hand holds the stem of a lotus (no book on it) and the right hand is extended palm out to display generosity and may hold a conch shell or a round object sometimes described as a boss.

12th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper with traces of gilding, at the British Museum in London (UK).

Avalokiteshvara, seated at ease, holding the stem of a large open lotus in his left hand.