An elemental force seems to empower this sculpture of Yamantaka, the destroyer of the lord of death. Indeed the statue was made during the very formative years of the Tibetan Buddhist culture as it is known today. After centuries of religious persecution, the end of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh centuries saw the resurgence of a deep fervour amongst Tibetans for Buddhism, finding inspiration in the complex Vajrayana systems of Indian and Nepal. This magnificent, unique Tibetan statue somehow captures the essential and pioneering spirit of the times.
An inscription in Tibetan on the tang beneath the left foot identifies the deity as Manjushri-Yamantaka. Manjushri, the beneficent lord of wisdom and the spiritual progenitor of Yamantaka, is represented by the uppermost head and his emblematic sword held in the forward thrusting right hand (the blade now missing). Yamantaka, the destroyer, is multi-armed to carry an arsenal of weapons; multi-headed to watch in all directions; multi-legged to trample a multitude of demons; wears protecting naga snakes as his regal jewellery and the flayed skin of a tiger as a symbol of power.