Lot 711
  • 711

A GILT-BRONZE FIGURE DEPICTING VAJRABHAIRAVA Tibet, 14th Century

Estimate
120,000 - 180,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Gilt-Bronze
  • Height: 7  1/2  in. (19.1 cm)
Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13052.

Provenance

Sotheby's New York, 30th November 1994, lot 83.

Catalogue Note

Yamantaka Vajrabhairava is one of the most formidable deities in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, the fearsome manifestation of the bodhisattva Manjushri, Lord of transcendent wisdom. Vajrabhairava, the Diamond Terrifier, stands in militant posture with multiple legs, with multiple arms surrounding his massive bulk. Vajrabhairava is typically portrayed in one of two forms: ekavira, or the solitary hero (such as the current work); or together with his consort Vajravetali (see lot 745).

Vajrabhairava’s myriad arms, heads and trampling legs symbolize the deity's mastery over all elements that bind sentient beings to the wheel of existence: the constant cycle of birth and death, passions, desires and fears. This superb figure of Vajrabhairava is a testament to the legacy of the Newari aesthetic imported into Tibet from the Kathmandu Valley, circa 14th Century. Displaying tremendous power and presence, this figure demonstrates the marriage of classical Nepalese and Tibetan sculptural elements in its luxuriant gilding, broad and thick physical modelling, and delicate use of inlay of semi-precious stones.

Small silver lugs at the stomach suggest that a silver bone apron was previously attached at the waist. It is interesting to note that the erect member is cast with a vajra tip, an iconographical detail which is exceedingly rare. 

Compare the broad square chest and shoulders, the thick rounded thighs and calves, the cast accoutrements, the decorative positioning of stone inlay, and the vajra-tipped member in the current work to another 14th Century ekavira Yamantaka Vajrabhairava in the Robert and Lois Baylis Collection, see Himalayan Art Resources item no. 90326.

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