Tibet, Palden Lhamo (5)

17th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In her most common form Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo in Tibet) rides a mule or a kiang sideways, using the corpse of her dead son as a saddle (we can see his head hanging down).

The above has a figure between her fangs.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, copper alloy with turquoise, coral and pigments, at the Glenbow Museum in Canada.

She has flaming hair and wears a five-skull crown. Her main attendants are Makaravaktra (the makara-headed deity who leads her kiang) and Simhavaktra (lion-headed deity).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Waddington’s.

She travels across a sea of blood.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with polychromy, private collection, photo by Nayef Homsi.

She is often adorned with snakes around her neck and in her hair, in this case large cobra snakes are wound around her forearms. Her mount is also adorned with snakes.

18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, from the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas (USA).       

She has five magical weapons: a pair of divination dice threaded onto a snake that hangs from her saddle, a bundle of red curses, a demon cross-stick or tally-stick, a ball of variegated thread (hanging from the rear of her saddle) and a bag of diseases (see below).

18th century, Tibet, Palden Lhamo, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

The bag of diseases is derived from an early weapon consisting in a skin bag filled with organic remains from people who had died of a contagious disease. This was thrown into the water supply of a besieged city to poison it.

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Tibet, Hevajra (4)

16th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy, photo from the Werner Forman Archive.

This unusual work depicts Hevajra with three heads, eight arms, two legs, in embrace with Nairatmya, who has one head and two arms. He holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands (across her back), a bow and an arrow, the hide of an elephant (only the front feet visible) and another two attributes in the other hands.

Circa 17th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy with pigment, at the Indian Museum of Kolkata (India).

Most Tibetan metal sculptures depict him with eight heads, 16 hands, 4 legs, standing in embrace with the consort.

17th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum

17th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum.

He holds skull cups filled with small figures representing deities and animals (see previous post), she has one head and two hands, in which she holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. There is a variant, in which he holds ritual implements instead of skull cups.

18th century, same as before, photo from the Forman Werner Archive.

The heads are usually arranged in a circle of seven (4 at the back, 3 at the front) plus one on top, all of them with three eyes and a skull crown.

Undated, Tibet, Hevajra, private collection, photo by Holly Auctions.

The two deities stand on Black Bhairava (ego) and red Kalaratri (ignorance).

Undated, Tibet, Hevajra, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

 

Tibet, Hevajra (3)

When depicted in embrace with his consort,  Hevajra may have 1 to 8 heads, 2 to 4 legs, 2 to 16 hands.

15th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt metal, photo by Walter Arader, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

They both wear bone jewellery and skull crowns, she has a bone apron (with raining jewel pendants in this case) and a garland of skull, he has a garland of fifty severed human heads.

16th century, Tibet, Hevajra, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Nagel.

She has a leg around his waist and holds a skull cup and a flaying knife.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, at the Indian Museum in Kolkata (India), photo from the Huntington Archive.

In his guhyasamaja form, the skull cups in his left hand hold the god of water, the god of fire, the god of art, the god of the Moon, the god of the Sun, the god of Earth, Yama, the holder of wealth.

Circa 16th century?, Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper, at the Fondation Alain Bordier in Gruyère (Switzerland).

and the skull cups in his right hands hold a horse, a donkey, a bull, a camel, a cat or an owl, an elephant, a man and a mythical creature  called sharabha (see the page on animals and mythical creatures at the top of the left hand column of this blog).

15th-17th century (closer to 17th), Tibet, Hevajra, gilt copper alloy with pigment and stone inlay, is or was at the Sakya monastery in Shigatse (Tibet), photo from the Huntington Archive.

Their hair is dyed with red pigment as is the case for most deities with a wrathful appearance.

Tibet, unidentified wrathful deities (3)

13th century, Tibet, unidentified, copper alloy with pigment, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This masterpiece depicts a wrathful deity with three heads, six hands and four legs, clad in a tiger skin, adorned with snakes, a garland of skulls and a skull crown. jewellery and a thin celestial scarf, an elephant hide over his back.

He holds a skull cup and a vajra sceptre (instead of a flaying knife) in his main hands…

An arrow, a human corpse, a drum and possibly a vajra-noose in the others.

He stands on two victims, possibly Kalaratri and Bhairava.

There is a form of Yamantaka (Krishna Yamari) with three heads and six hands  who holds various attributes including a human corpse (impaled on a tree, on paintings), a noose and a vajra sceptre but he normally has two legs and one of his attributes is a sword.

15th century, Tibet, unidentified, brass, is or was at the Potala in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This rare item depicts a 17-head deity (four stacks of four heads plus one head on top, all of them with three eyes), in embrace with his consort who only has one head. It is not clear how many arms they each have. We have seen several examples of a rare form of namasangiti Manjushri with two hands held above his head, but they all have only one head, twelve hands and no consort.

17th century, Tibet, heruka, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.This  wrathful meditational deity is depicted with his consort, who holds a long-life vase in her left hand. Their other attributes are now missing.

 

 

Tibet, unidentified wrathful deities (2)

16th century, Tibet, unidentified, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel.

This character, possibly an attendant, has a semi-wrathful aspect and both hands doing a symbolic gesture.

He is adorned with princely jewellery and a five-leaf crown inlaid with stones (many missing).

18th century, Tibet, tantric deity, gilt copper, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

This very wrathful character riding a horse has one head and four arms. He wears a long coat and boots, a five-skull crown with flowing ribbons, large round earrings, a garland of severed heads. His hair is gathered in a large bun tied with a snake and topped with a flaming finial.

18th century, Tibet, wrathful deity, bronze with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This could be one of several deities and only the missing attributes would give us his identity. He wears the usual wrathful ornaments (snakes and bone accessories, garland of severed heads, tiger skin dhoti, five-skull crown) and has a human hide and the skin of an animal over his back.

Undated (circa 19th century), Tibet, gilt metal, at the American Museum of National History.

Modern sculptures (19th century onwards) are only included in this blog when they are of particular relevance or interest. Out of a set of animal-headed deities, this is the only one with three human heads, each with three eyes. He has six hands, in which he holds various attributes (snake, noose, book, stem?). His red hair is gathered in a tall chignon that seems to be adorned with a multitude of small skulls or heads.

 

Tibet, Achala – various forms

On paintings, Achala may have white, blue or black skin. White Achala is described as having one head with three eyes, orange flaming hair, two hands and two legs. Blue Achala usually has blue hair and he may have 2 or 4 heads and 2 or 4 hands.

13th-14th century, Tibet, Achala, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo from the Huntington Archive on http://www.huntingtonarchive.org.

In sculpture, it is not always possible to distinguish between the 2-head and 2-hand form of Achala and the white form, although generally speaking the former is depicted with his mouth closed, the upper fangs biting the lower lip.

16th c. cir?, Tibet, Achala, blue, gilt c.a.+stones, Densatil style, private on HAR

Undated, Tibet, Blue Achala, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

They both brandish a flaming sword with the right hand and a have noose or lasso wound around the forefinger of the left hand.

Same as before, copper alloy, same as before.and both forms may be standing on Ganapati, or half kneeling on the lotus base, but only Blue Achala may have a human form as on the two items above. This Pala revival work depicts him with a knee-length lower garment held in place with a belt. The previous ones wears the usual tiger skin dhoti.

14th century, Tibet, Achala, copper alloy with stone and silver inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is a rare example of Blue Achala with one head and four arms, standing on Ganapati (who holds a pot), an effigy of Akshobhya in front of  his flaming hair bunch, adorned with snakes, holding what looks like an arrow in his lower right hand. His eyes and urna are inlaid with silver, his crown and earrings with gemstones (most of them missing).

Circa 15th century, Tibet, Achala, private collection, photo by Arts of Asia.

The gaping mouth and orange flaming hair correspond to the white form of this meditational deity.

Circa 14th century, Tibet, Black Achala, bronze, cold gold and pigment, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is Black Achala, with three heads, four legs, six hands..

 … in which he holds a sword and a lotus (upper hands), a vajra sceptre and a wheel of dharma, a skull cup and a flaying knife (main hands).

He wears the usual tiger skin dhoti and is adorned with snakes and a garland of fifty severed heads.

 

 

Tibet, Chakrasamvara – 12 hands (5)

Labelled 11th century, Western Tibet (also labelled China, 17th century), Chakrasamvara mandala, brass, Kashmir school, is or was at the Lima Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This rare works depicts the 4-head and 12-hand form of Chakrasamvara standing on Kalaratra and Bhairava and embracing with his consort, who has one leg around his waist. He holds a vajra sceptre and a bell in his main hands crossed over Vajravarahi’s back, the hide of an elephant in his upper hands, a trident, an axe, a knife, a vajra stick in the remaining right hands; a (partly broken) skull cup, Brahma’s four heads, a broken implement and a noose in the remaining left hands. She holds a knife and, presumably, a skull cup (not visible here). His head is topped with a visvajra and a crescent moon, they wear three-skull crowns and bone jewellery, a garland of severed heads for him, a garland of skulls for her. Their faces are painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair dyed with blue pigment. The flaming arch and halo behind them are decorated with pots topped with a skull cup and wrathful deities standing on a victim.

15th century, Tibet, Chakrasamvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

On this example the crescent moon is on the other side of his chignon and the visvajra is at the front. He holds the usual implements in his main hands, possibly the extremities of an elephant hide in the upper ones, a drum, an axe, a flaying knife, another implement (which should be a trident but doesn’t look like one) in the remaining right hands; a staff with a head and three skulls, a skull cup, a noose, Brahma’s four heads in the remaining left hands. She wears a bone apron with raining jewel pendants, bone jewellery and a garland of skull. He wears a tiger skin dhoti, the head of the animal resting over his left thigh, bones jewellery, a garland of human heads and a bone apron with heads and raining jewel pendants.

Same as before with turquoise inlay, private collection photo by Bonhams.

The elephant hide is often missing and all that remains are the extremities of the animal in Chakrasamvara’s upper hands. The above has a full hide across his back.