Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrabhairava (Buddhist Deity) - Solitary (Ekavira)

རྡོ་རྗེ་འཇིགས་འབྱེད། 金刚大威德(佛教本尊)
(item no. 7941)
Origin Location Nepal
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Animal-Feature

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Ekavira Vajrabhairava (Tibetan: dor je jig je pa wo chig pa. English: The Solitary Hero Vajra Terror) a wrathful form of Manjushri.

Vajrabhaiarava has nine faces, thirty-four arms and sixteen legs. In the hands are a vast array of objects and attributes. Behind the head he holds up a fresh elephant hide. He generally appears either as a solitary figure or with the consort Vajra Vetali. In this composition he is solitary although depicted in an engorged ithyphallic state.

The Indian gods underfoot are described in the early Vajrabhairava literature. In this composition there are nly seven figures represented. Some texts have the order slightly different with Kartika followed by Ganesha, Surya, and Chandra, or Ganesha, Kartika, Chandra and Surya.

"Brahma, Indra, Vishnu and Shiva [under right feet]. Ganesha, Kartika, Chandra and Surya [under left feet]. Yellow, white, maroon and black, light yellow, light blue, light red and black. Holding a vase, vajra and chakra, trident, bow and arrow, sword and shield, spear and curved knife." Pandita Vairochana Rakshita.

Along the bottom of the composition are nineteen deities relating to the outer and inner mandala of Vajrabhairava.

The landscape scenes at the right and left sides depict the Eight Great Cemeteries. According to Tantric literature and the descriptions of wrathful deities and their environs, the eight charnel grounds surround the central palace and deity of a mandala. There are several different sets of eight names and descriptions for the eight great charnel grounds depending on the Buddhist and Hindu Tantric literature consulted. These charnel grounds also have corresponding physical locations in India such as the Laughing Charnel ground at Bodhgaya and the Cool Grove Charnel ground close by, along with the Frightening Charnel ground in the Black Hills of Bihar.

Jeff Watt 8-2017

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Subject: Ithyphallic Art