Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13444
Vajrabhairava, or Adamantine Anger, the destroyer of ignorance and fear of death, is one of the principal yidams of the Geluk sect, the Tibetan Buddhist order founded by Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) that was later favoured at the Qing court. The Geluk sect enjoyed increased importance amongst the emperors of the Ming dynasty. From the mid-17th century on, The Geluk lineage were the dominant theocratic power in Tibet through the Dalai Lama, and the sole represented Tibetan Buddhist lineage within China.
Tsong Khapa, as well as the Manchu emperors, were additionally considered manifestations of the bodhisattva Manjushri, explaining in part the popularity of Vajrabhairava within China. The Qing emperors maintained direct links with the Dalai and Panchen Lamas and propagated the Geluk lineage of Buddhism within China, sponsoring the construction of numerous monasteries and temples around the capital of Beijing. Vajrabhairava, the all-powerful manifestation of Manjushri, was thereby symbolic of the ultimate imperial authority. This awe-inspiring statue serves to enforce the imperial mandate while representing the highest ideals of the spiritual path to Buddhist enlightenment.
Compare the triple-looped beaded girdle and short dhoti of Vajravetali with another eighteenth century bronze figure of the yidam and consort, sold at Christie’s London, 6th November 2012, lot 94.
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