A miniature stupa, cast of bronze in several parts, consisting of a bell-shaped base; an inverted cone-shaped tower, capped by an "umbrella" with pendant, fringe-like decoration, inlaid with semi-percious stone, surmounted by a lotus bud. Atop the whole structure is a half-moon and sun disk motif, supported by intertwined ribbons and culminating in another lotus bud.
A miniature stupa, or reliquary for containing funerary ashes or other items intimately associated with a famous monk teacher in Buddhism. This form of this stupa is characteristic of a type used by the Kadampa School, surmounted with a sun and moon.
A tiny tear-drop-shaped metal (copper?) pendant, edged with beading, serving as support for a minature seated image of a Dhyani Buddha, made of inlaid semi-precious stones and copper wire. This may have originally been part of a necklace or tiara, or part of a brooch for a high-ranking monk's ritual costume.
A crowned and jeweled figure of a Dhyana Buddha (a primordial Buddha, venerated in Vajrayana Buddhism), shown seated with legs pendant.
A fragment of a horizontal scroll, which would originally have been rolled up and tucked inside a Tibetan prayer wheel, with the text of a prayer printed in red and black ink.
A fragment of a prayer scroll, that is, the text of a prayer printed in red and black ink on a horizontal strip of paper. Such texts were rolled up and placed inside a Tibetan "prayer wheel," a device that can be set spinning. By setting a prayer wheel in motion, a practitioner symbolically allows the efficacy of the prayer to spin out, as though in a centrifugal pattern, through the cosmos.
A portable painting done in ink and gouache on loose-weave, primed cotton, surround by two strips of fabric. This painting has suffered greatly from water damage, running the pigments together.
A portrait of a lama (teacher), dressed in red and monk's robes and a red pandita (scholar's) hat, in confrontation with a blue-faced, three-eyed demon. The lama may be tentatively identified as the early 14th-century master Yungdron Dorje Pal. He is shown here holding a 'kila' dagger in his right hand, while he extends his right hand to offer a skull cup to the blue demon.
Three monks in red robes, two of whom wear folded pandita hats, look on the scene from the lower left corner; in the lower right-hand corner, the blue-skinned dharmapala Mahakala tramples a prone figure. To the viewer's upper left is a meditation deity, a yab-yum pair with flame-red skin. At the upper right, a monk-scholar sits calmly within a blue orb, reading from a text.
Other paintings with this same composition are illustated on http://wwe.himalayanart.org, as follows:
• Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, acc. #F1997.9.1. A
• Erie Art Museum (accession number not given), also in very poor condition
A miniature, cast bronze sculpture of Kubera, the god of wealth, seated sideways on a lion. Kubera sits in the lalitasana pose (the pose of royal ease, with one leg drawn up and the other relaxed); his right hand is outstretched to rest on the knee, while his left arm is akimbo and his hand rests on his hip. The base has a simple, single lotus petal design.
Kubera, the god of wealth, is widely worshipped in South and East Asia, in both Buddhist and Hindu contexts. He is shown here seated sideways on a lion.
A portable painting, with gouache pigments on sized cotton, bordered by three strips of Chinese brocade. The painting is designed to be rolled up when not in use.
This painting is a diagrammatic representation of the transmission of teachings within the Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism. Tsongkhapa (1357 - 1419), the founder of the school, wearing the Gelugpa yellow hat and flanked by two lotus blossoms, is seated at the heart of a vast array of figures. Below him, forming the mountain on which he sits, are row upon row of the meditational deities revered by the school, including Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deified lamas (teachers), as well as the fierce ‘dharmapala’ deities (protectors of the faith). At the side, seated in large numbers on billowing clouds, are teachers in the Gelugpa lineage. The ascetic figures at the top center, above Tsongkhapa, represent famous Indian mahasiddas, yogis who have mastered tantric teachings.
There are many variants of such lineage diagrams among the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. They type is known by many names, including “Assembly Tree,” “Merit Field,” “Refuge Field,” or “Field of Accumulation”; in Tibetan, the generic term is “tsog shing.”
A suberply cast hollow bronze figure of Tara, a Buddhist goddess, shown leated in the lalitasana pose ("royal ease," with one knee bent and the other relaxed), her right hand extended to her right knee in vara mudra (the gesture of charity), and her left hand in vitarka mudra (the gesture of teaching, with the thumb and third finger brought together). She wears a dhoti and jewelry, including an elaborate tiara and enormous lotus-petal design ear plugs. Her face has a broad, open forehead, with wide, slightly arching brows; her eyes are downcast with "s"-shaped upper lids; her nose is straight and long, and her mouth, in a curved Cupid's bow shape, is small but full. Her torso leans slightly to her left, which is balanced by the right tilt of her head. She sits on a double lotus dais with beaded upper and lower rims. The image and the base were case in one piece in the lost-wax method. There are traces of red paint for her mouth and blue paint for her hair.
Tara is a relatively late addition to the Buddhist pantheon, being part of a larger Buddhist response in northeastern India to thriving Hindu cults, especially the emerging popularity of goddesses. A female bodhisattva, she is considered the consort or female aspect of Avalokitesara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
Tara is widely revered by followers of Tibetan Buddhism in the Himalayas and Mongolia; to laymen, she is a deity who can be approached without the intercession of a monk, and who will offer respite from suffering, while to the tantric adept, she is the focus for advanced yogic practices. She is depicted as a youthful, sensual woman.
A small stone sculpture in bas-relief, depicting a tantric goddess. The back of the image is carved in a stylized petal shape, while the figure is crudely carved in relief on the front.
Tentatively identified as a dakini, a "sky walker": a popular type of goddess in Tibetan Buddhism. Dakinis are shown naked, and as in this image, usually wear a garland of skulls, and carry a skull cup, a flaying knife, and a staff strung with human skulls. The symbolism for such images is complex, but broadly speaking, dakinis represesnt the spontaneous energy of the mind stripped of delusion and defilements.
Dakinis are a popular subject in Himalayan art, and the figure on this small stone corresponds to the standard iconography in all respects but one: normally a dakini is shown taking an aggressive stride, with both feet on the ground, but here, the sculptor has taken advantage of the stone "background" to show her left leg held high, in a monumental stride.
A very finely hollow cast bronze portrait sculpture of a seated figure, with the lotus dais and pointed monk's cap cast in one piece with the figure.
The monk is shown seated in the padmasana (lotus) pose, with each foot resting sole-upward on the opposite knee. In his right hand, he holds a vajra (a double-pronged scepter) and simultaneously makes the vitarka gesture for teaching. His left hand, resting on his lap, holds a bell. His costume consists of a dhoti, which is knotted high on his torso; a short-sleeved shirt, crossed over his chest and decorated with incised scroll patterns, with a fret design at the border; and an overrobe that wraps around his left shoulder and is draped over his right shoulder. His face has a broad forehead, incised eyebrows in a high arch; downcast eyes, with leaf-shaped upper eyelids; a broad, flat nose; a sweet smile and full lips; and a narrow chin. His tall, pointed monk's cap, which completely hides his hair, has flaps that spread to reach his upper arms.
A portrait sculpture of an unidentified Tibetan lama (teacher), who is shown holding the vajra and bell, the two principal ritual implements of Vajrayana Buddhism. He wears the tall cap of a pandit, a scholar.
A hollow cast bronze sculpture of the Buddha, including a lotus base. The bronze has a dark, shiny patina over most of its surface.
The Buddha sits with his legs crossed in the padmasana pose; his right hand reaches down, palm inwards, to touch the earth, in an elegant gesture with just the tip of his third finger making contact, while his right hand rests in his lap. His torso is tall and erect. His dhoti (a skirt-like garment) is tied high on his torso, while his outer robe covers his left shoulder completely and just brushes against his right shoulder. His face is shaped like a tall and narrow "U," with wide, gently arching brows, downcast eyes under swelling lids, a long and high nose, and full, cupid's-bow lips. The urna, an auspicious mark on his forehead, is indicated here by a small bump with an incised outline. His hair is arranged in rows of snail-shell curls, which are repeated in a larger size on his ushnisha, culminating in a lotus bud.
The upward-pointing lotus petals on the dais are in high relief, with curling tips.
The Buddha in bhumisparsa mudra (the gesture of touching the earth with his right hand, palm inward), signaling his victory over Mara.
10 cm x 8.2 cm x 4.6 cm (3 15/16 in. x 3 1/4 in. x 1 13/16 in.)
A miniature figure of a tantric goddess, very finely cast by the cire perdue (lost wax) method. The goddess is shown seated in lalitasana pose ("royal ease," one knee bent and the other relaxes) on a lotus dais, which is separately cast. She has 8 arms which are in variants of vitarka mudra (the gesture of teaching). She has three heads, with the two lateral heads seen here as partial profiles; each wears the five-petal tiara of Tibetan Buddhist ritual. Her skirt is unusual, looking to be made of leaves, instead of the usual dhoti. Her hair is painted blue and her lips red.