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Vajrapani
Tibet, Eastern region
18th century
Distemper on cloth
73.5 x 44 cm (29 x 17 ¼ in)
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Provenanace
Rolf Van Buren Collection, 1990 Laurent & Dominique Solomon Private Collection, Singapore
Exhibited
Publications

Watt, J., Tibetan Thangkas: Buddhist Paintings from the 17th to the 19th Century (Hong Kong: Rossi & Rossi, 2018), 38–41

J. Watt, Himalayan Art Resources (himalayanart.org), no. 48216

Vajrapani: Bodhisattva from a set of nine compositions depicting the Eight Great Bodhisattvas of the Mahayana sutra tradition; the identity of the central figure for this painting set has not yet been verified, but most likely, it will be either the Shakyamuni Buddha or the Amitabha Buddha

In this form, Vajrapani is peaceful in appearance and dark blue in colour, with one face and two hands. He holds his right hand to his heart; in it, he clutches the stem of a flower blossom supporting a half-vajra sceptre, gold in colour. His left hand rests on his thigh in a relaxed manner. From under his gold crown, which is decorated with wish-fulfilling jewels, locks of black hair fall loosely. Adorned with gold earrings, a necklace and bracelets, the deity is richly attired in multicoloured silk garments of violet, green and orange. In a relaxed posture, with his legs loosely placed, he sits atop a modest red throne and his head is framed by a simple, albeit large, ring of light. In the shade of a large tree, he dwells placidly against a mountainous background.

In the foreground, a standing lay attendant figure holds a tray supporting a vajra sceptre and an upright vajra-handled bell.

The Buddhas Amitabha, Medicine Buddha and Akshobhya are usually depicted to show the additional enlightened figures of Mahayana Buddhism. Sets of bodhisattva paintings such as these are important, as they represent the realised students from the Mahayana sutra tradition. Another set of compositions is used to portray the historical Mahayana teachers, such as Nagarjuna (ca. 150–250 CE) and Asanga (fl. 4th century).