Details & Cataloguing

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art Including Property from The Cleveland Museum of Art

New York

Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13385.
Height: 9  1/2  in. (24.2 cm)
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Acquired privately, 28 May 1971. 

Catalogue Note

This sensuously modelled sculpture of Vajradhara demonstrates the iconic craftsmanship and aesthetic dynamism of the Newari atelier: the low hairline and broad forehead, the rectangular urna adorning the square face, the aquiline nose reminiscent of earlier Pala imagery, the short neck and wide powerful shoulders, the distinctive scarf draped high across the upper body and looped under each elbow, and the prominent use of semi-precious stone and glass lozenge inlay.

This sensuality extends to the smallest details of the sculpture, as evidenced in the delicately curved fingers adorned with small rings, the gracefully splayed toes atop the thighs, the curly tendrils cascading down the shoulders, and the small rows of beading along the girdle festoons.

The embodiment of the mind of enlightenment, Vajradhara is the source of the Five Dhyani Buddhas which represent the five qualities of Buddhahood. Vajradhara is seated crosslegged in vajraparyankasana atop a double-lotus throne; the hands crossed in front of the chest in vajrahumkara mudra holding a ghanta in the left hand and a vajra in the right, signifying the union of wisdom and compassion.

The five-pronged crown, representing the Five Dhyani Buddhas, is inlaid with turquoise and colored glass and marked with a makara emblem, and secured above the ears with a streaming sash. This is surmounted by a conical helmet with flaming jewels and vajra finial and adorned with semi-precious stones and further colored glass lozenges. Vajradhara wears elaborate jewelry inlaid with turquoise and colored glass, with a long sash flowing under the arms and looped around the neck.

Compare a fifteenth century gilt-copper Amitayus formerly in the Philip Goldman Collection sold in these rooms, 21 March 2002, lot 55, and published in U. von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p. 357, pl. 94C.

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art Including Property from The Cleveland Museum of Art

New York