Nepal, various characters (3)

11th-12th century, Nepal, Vajrapurusha, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This friendly yaksha is identified as the embodiment of Vajrapani’s attribute thanks to the half-vajra emerging from his chignon and the way he stands with this arms crossed over his chest. He wears a cape and a loin cloth, and is adorned with floral earrings and snakes.

16th-17th century, Nepal, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, parcel-gilt copper repoussé with paint, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Indian & Southeast Asian Art, 1st April 2005, lot 87.

The two arhats wear a brocaded shawl that leaves the right arm free, and a long pleated skirt-like garment with an incised border such as we have seen on various Nepalese sculptures of buddha Dipankara. They hold a bowl in their left hand and a staff (not normally associated with them) in the other.

16th-17th century, Nepal, labelled ‘Naja Chenmo’ (?), wood, private collection, photo on Ethereal .

18th century, Nepal, garuda, gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo on  Hardt .

The mythical bird-like creature holds a naga in its beak and and in its hand. Its flaming hair is decorated with a  crescent moon+sun disc+dissolution point symbol.

18th century, Nepal, karmapa and devotee, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 103 China 1.

The male figure is dressed in kingly attire, including a long-sleeve coat that cover both arms and a cloud-shaped cape (unusual for a karmapa). He is seated with his legs locked and wears a lotus hat, a mala, and earrings now lost. He holds a rosary and a book. The female figure has her hair tied in a bun and is adorned with earrings and various necklaces. She sits in a relaxed manner and her hands are in the gesture of salutation.

Nepal, wrathful figures (4)

14th century, Nepal, Vajrabhairava (labelled ‘Yamantaka Sukhavana Samvara’), copper alloy, photo from the Huntington Archive (nº 50534), at the National Museum in Kathmandu (Nepal).

Vajrabhairava, with  9 heads (including a buffalo head as his main head), 34 hands and 16 legs, in embrace with his consort, Vajravetali, who holds a skull cup and a flaying knife. He holds peaceful and wrathful attributes. His eight right legs are bent and usually tread on four gods and four mammals, his eight left legs are stretched and usually tread on another four gods and four birds (all missing here).

Licchavi period, Nepal, Mahakala, photo 20054 from the Huntington Archive, stone, at Patan City in Nepal.

Licchavi period, Nepal, Mahakala, stone, photo on Alamy , at the Golden Temple in Patan (Nepal).

Two early sculptures of Mahakala with one head and two arms, holding a flaying knife and a skull cup before his heart, a ritual staff propped against his left shoulder. He is adorned with snakes, a garland of severed heads, a belt with jewelled pendants.

Circa 17th century, Nepal, mahakala, black stone, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, Indian and Southeast Asian Art, 1st April 2005 lot 77.Like the first example, this later work depicts him standing on a human victim, with both legs straight, possibly  a variant of the panjaranata form, who squats on his victim and has a danda staff across his arms or against his left shoulder.

16th century, Nepal, labelled ‘Guhyasamaja’, gilt bronze (copper alloy with cold gold and pigment), private collection, photo by Sotheby’s, 2009.

This figure with a wrathful yaksha appearance has three heads and six hands, in which he holds a sword and an axe, a vajra stick and a vajra bell, a vajra sceptre and a vajra-tipped lasso – a combination we have not seen on any form of Guhyasamaja or any wrathful deity so far. He wears a tiger skin loin cloth, a necklace with pendants, snake jewellery and sacred cord, his flaming hair is tied with a snake, there is an effigy of a buddha at the front.

16th century, Nepal, Rakta Yamari with consort, gilt copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Heruka rakta Yamari has a human head with three eyes, flaming hair, two arms and two legs crushing a corpse atop a prostrate male buffalo. He hold a skull cup in his left hand and brandishes a stick with a human head at the tip, she holds a flaying knife and a skull cup. He wears a tiger skin loin cloth and a celestial scarf and is adorned with bone jewellery, a five-skull crown, snakes and a garland of severed heads. She wears a bone apron and is adorned with a five-skull crown, snakes, a garland of skulls.

18th century, Nepal, Vajrapani, stone, private collection, photo on Hardt .

Canda/Chana Vajrapani wields a vajra sceptre in his right hand and holds a lasso in the other, pointing sideways. Instead of standing on a victim lying on a bed of serpents as usual, he has one foot on a large lotus.

Nepal, dakinis (3)

Circa 5th century, Nepal, crow-headed dakini, stone,  photo nº 50212 from the Huntington Archive , at the Svayambhu stupa complex in Santipura.

This dakini with the head of a crow is similar to Kakasya, one of the four-gate dakinis, and Kakamukha, an attendant on the outer circle of a mandala. The above has four hands, in which she holds a drum and a ritual staff, a flaying knife and a skull cup. She stands on both legs and is adorned with a five-skull crown, bone jewellery, a bone apron, a garland of severed heads.

Circa 5th century, Nepal, owl-headed dakini, stone, photo on the Hungtington Archive as before, at the Svayambhu stupa complex in Santipura (Nepal).

A similar character, with the same attributes and the head of an owl, such as Ulukasya and Ulumukha, who normally have two arms and hold different implements.

Licchavi period, Nepal, Simhamukha, stone, photo from the Huntington Archive, nº 18796, at the Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu (Nepal).The popular lion-headed wisdom dakini stands in a dancing pose, brandishing a flaying knife and holding a skull cup before her heart, a ritual staff placed in the crook of her left arm.

16th century, Nepal, Simhamukha (labelled ‘Simhavaktra’), black stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17719 lot 225, Paris.

On this more recent work we can see her third eye, curled tongue, bared fangs, and  flaming hair, together with her usual five-skull crown, bone jewellery, and garland of severed heads. She stands on a victim, and wears a human hide over her shoulders and a long snake around her neck.

11th-12th century, Nepal, Vajravarahi, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

Vajravarahi, identified by the head of a sow coming out of her right temple, stands in the same pose and holds the same attributes as the previous figure. She has a human face, with a third eye and bared fangs, and wears the same wrathful adornments.

Circa 17th century, Nepal, dakini, wood, architectural strut, private collection, photo on 25 Blythe Road .A one-head and four-arm figure with a peaceful yaksha appearance, holding a rosary and a bunch of lotuses in her upper hands, a skull cup in her lower right hand, the left one in the gesture to bestow refuge (kartari mudra).

Tibet, wrathful Vajrapani – various forms (6)

12th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, copper, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Nilambara/Nilambadhara Vajrapani brandishes a vajra sceptre in his right hand at head level and holds a bell against his left hip, often upside down. He is usually adorned with nothing but snakes, including a long one to tie his mass of flaming hair.

13th century, Tibet, Vajrapani, brass with pigment and traces of cold gold, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Canda/Chanda Vajrapani is quite similar but with a lasso in his left hand, his fingers making a threatening gesture, as above, or the gesture to ward off evil. On this masterpiece he is adorned with jewellery, wears a tight-fitting tiger skin loin cloth, and has an upright vajra at the top of his mitre-like hair.

14th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, gilt copper with turquoise inlay, photo on Fondation, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

We have seen other examples of him standing on a lotus base including a garuda on a bed of snakes (see on HAR , and here).

15th century, Tibet, Canda Vajrapani, brass with stones, cold gold and pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as above, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Undated (circa 15th century?), Tibet, Vajrapani, copper alloy (with cold gold, pigment and turquoise), private collection?, photo in an article by Marianne Talma on exarc.net.

Pala India, a few yaksha figures

10th century, India, Pita Jambhala, brass, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Yellow Jambhala, who always has a peaceful yaksha appearance, holds a citron and a jewel-spitting mongoose. He is seated in a relaxed manner, his left leg pendant, the foot placed on an upturned vase of abundance.

11th-12th c., India NE, Bihar, Jambhala, stone, photo by Iris Papadopoulos, at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin (Germany).

The same form of the deity with attendants, and with a devotee kneeling at the front of the throne.

11th-12th c., India, Achala, stone, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier as before, at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

A rare four-arm form of Achala standing alone, both feet crushing Ganapati, brandishing a sword and holding a skull cup in his main hands. The other attributes are a trident and possibly a lasso.

12th-13th century, Northeastern India, Vajrapani, lotus petal from a mandala, at the Patan Museum (India).

A wrathful yaksha with a visvajra in his right hand (normally associated with Blue Vajravidarana), the bell missing from his left hand placed against his hip.

Tibet, Mahakala – various forms (8)

14th-15th century, Tibet, Densatil, Mgon po Gtsug tor rten possibly, gilt copper, photo on academia ,The Commemorative Stupas at Densathil, Olaf Czaja, p. 249 fig. 15.

Mahakala in his kartaridhara form (or a similar one), with one head and two arms, wielding a flaying knife and holding a skull cup before his heart. He is clad in a tiger skin loin cloth and adorned with princely jewellery and a garland of severed heads.

14th century, Tibeto-Chinese, stone, Panjarnata Mahakala, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

Made by a Tibetan artist for a Chinese patron, this stele depicts the popular form of Mahakala known as panjarnata. He always stands in a squatting posture, normally on a victim, and holds a flaying knife and a skull cup in his hands, and has a danda stick resting across his arms or against his left shoulder.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Four-faced Mahakala, painted clay, found at the Bhada monastery in Western China, published on Buddhistdoor .

Chaturmukha Mahakala with a wrathful yaksha appearance, 4 heads and 4 arms. He normally holds a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands, a sword and a lance or a rosary in the upper ones, and wears a tiger skin loin cloth, a five-skull crown, bone and snake ornaments.

16th century, Tibet, Mahakala, gilt bronze with pigment, photo on Fondation Alain Bordier , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

Chaturbhuja ( four arms) Mahakala may be standing or seated, usually on a lotus base. This is a rare example of him seated in the royal ease position on top of a victim. He holds the usual flaying knife and skull cup in his main hands, a sword and a trident in the other. His mitre-like flaming hair is topped with a half-vajra finial.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Shadbhuja Mahakala, stone with traces of cold gold and pigment, photo here , at the Tibet Museum in Gruyères (Switzerland).

This is the blue form (with a blue body on paintings) of Mahakala with six arms. He stands on Ganapati and holds a flaying knife and a skull cup in his main hands, a rosary of skulls and a (missing) trident or staff in the upper ones, a drum and a lasso in the lower ones.

Tibet, unidentified wrathful deities (7)

17th century, Tibet, Tsaparang, protector of the dharmakaya, (painted clay?), photo by Tucci in an article by Joseph Houseal here .

A graceful character with one head and four arms, a green body and red flaming hair, soles and palms, adorned with a crown, bone jewellery and a garland of severed heads, in embrace with his consort, who has both legs around his waist and wears bone jewellery, a garland of skull and a bone apron.

15th-16th century, Tibet, unidentified (labelled ‘Mahakala’), bronze and stone inlay, private collection, photo by Lempertz, sale 1101 lot 861.

This elderly yaksha with a beard and moustache brandishes a sword (the blade would not have been in this position originally) in his right hand like Achala, but he holds a flaying knife in his left hand. He stands on Ganapati, who has a jewel in one hand and a jewel-spitting mongoose in the other, and wears a tiger skin loin cloth, beaded jewellery and a scarf decorated with an incised motif and acting as a nimbus.

15th century, Tibet, unidentified (labelled ‘Mahakala’), gilt copper repoussé, private collection, photo by The Emporium Ltd

Seated on a human victim who holds a skull cup, this three-headed figure with floral crowns and earrings has eight arms. The main hands hold an upright vajra sceptre and a lasso, the other right hands hold a sword, a stick, a ritual staff, the left hands hold a cylindrical object, a bow, an arrow.

18th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Jinasagara (or not), gilt bronze, private collection, photo Isabelle Bresset on artcurial .

His consort holds a skull cup and a drum like jinasagara Avalokiteshvara but this deity has a semi-wrathful appearance, with a third eye and a five-skull crown. She has red flaming hair, and wears a bone apron.

18th century, Tibet, unidentified (labelled ‘Yama’), (gilt) bronze, photo on Werner Forman Archive /Philip Goldman Collection .

Two irate yakshas with a human hide on their back, a loin cloth, bone ornaments and a five skull crown, each stepping on a victim with a human appearance. They both have a drum in their right hand. One of them does with his left hand a gesture often accompanied by a lasso, the other holds an object, possibly a skull cup filled with blood.