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Vajradhara (primordial Buddha)




Vajradhara (primordial Buddha)


16th c.


Gilded bronze


42.5 cm (h.)


Purchase, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 1971.Eb.1.1-2


Archeology and World Cultures

In Nepal and Tibet, new Buddhist divinities were portrayed in sculpture and on painted scrolls. Ferocious guardian deities appeared in the role of protectors of the faithful. These figures reflect the terrors that lurk in the human psyche, but also attest to the marvellously imaginative abilities of the Himalayan artists. This sculpture depicts the primordial Buddha Vajradhara (“bearer of the diamond sceptre”), considered the essence of all Buddhas in the Tibetan pantheon. The deity wears the opulent jewellery and billowing scarf and other garments of a bodhisattva, but in his hands, crossed before his chest, he holds a bell (ghanta) and a diamond sceptre (vajra) – symbols of female wisdom and male compassion, respectively – in the gesture known as “the adamantine sound” (vajrahumkara). Vajradhara sits on a lotus-flower pedestal, legs crossed in vajraparyankasana, a posture that represents his commitment to the Buddhist Law (dharma).

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