Tibet, Western region, or India, Himachal Pradesh
11th century
Copper alloy
22.3 x 13.3 x 5 cm (8 ¾ x 5 ½ x 2 in)

This elaborate sculpture depicts Chakrasamvara embracing his consort Vajravarahi in yab yum, symbolising the union of Wisdom and Compassion in tantric Buddhist belief. From the eleventh century, Chakrasamvara became one of the most popular deities in Tantric Buddhism practised in the Himalayan regions.

Chakrasamvara’s stands in the dynamic posture of alidhasana on the crushed figures of the Hindu deities Kalaratri and Bhairava, symbolising the defeat of the enemies of Buddhist doctrine. His twelve arms hold various ritual implements and while there has been damage to some of his hands and implements, identifiable attributes include a chant (bell), vajra (thunderbolt-sceptre), parashu (axe) and khatvanga (ritual staff), while holding a ribbon aloft above his heads. Vajravarahi stands with her right leg wrapped around his waist while there is damage to her arms, she traditionally would have held a kapala (skull-cup) and a kartrika (chopper). A simple aureole in the shape of a flame surrounds the two figures.

The sculpture shows clear Kashmiri influences and could have originated from the northeastern Indian region of Himachal Pradesh, or from Western Tibet, a region which had close commercial and artistic ties with Kashmir in the tenth to the thirteenth century. These Kashmiri characteristics, which a, so feature in early Western Tibetan sculpture, include the stepped base, the V-shaped upper body and proportionally large head. The simple jewellery and textile patterns, as well as the projection of the side heads,  are also characteristic of early sculpture from Western Tibet.