Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Vajradaka Main Page

Vajradaka Masterworks

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Seated Figure
- Standing Figure
- With Charcoal Bowl Base
- Miscellaneous Bases
- Figurative Sculptural Forms as Ritual Objects
- Purification Deities Main Page
- Chakrasamvara Main Page
- Vajrayogini Offering
- Lamp Offering
- Confusions: Bhurkumkuta, Ucchushma
- Others...

Video: Vajradaka Description

Vajradaka (Tibetan: dor je kan dro). A deity of purification from the Vajradaka Tantra belonging to the larger category of the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras.

"...Vajradaka with a body blue-black in colour, one face. With the two hands at the heart performing the King of Desire mudra, the right holds a vajra and left a bell. Possessing three eyes, yellow hair flowing upward, a radiant face and adorned with bones, jewels and the eight great nagas. Wearing a lower garment of tiger skin, with the left leg extended,..." (Chogyal Pagpa, 1235-1280).

The physical sculpture of Vajradaka is a ritual piece used while performing one of several specific meditations involving purification. At a certain point in the ritual black sesame seeds are inserted into the mouth of the Vajradaka sculpture accompanied by the recitation of mantras. The black sesame seeds then fall through the hollow body of the metal sculpture and onto an incense pot filled with burning embers or coals. The seeds are burnt and the smoke rises upwards and dissipates just as the defilements and sins of the practitioner are imagined to be destroyed through the power of the ritual.

The sculpture is made in two pieces. The top piece is the figure of Vajradaka. The bottom piece is the pedestal containing the burning coals. The pedestal is sometimes created with the botttom flush with the surface it stands on and sometimes created as a square box or in the shape of a tripod vessel similar to a Chinese style incense burner. Most sculpture of Vajradaka in museum and private collections are missing the bottom pedestal which holds the burner for the charcoal. (See examples with pedestal: Vajradaka 1 and Vajradaka 2).

Sculptural representations of Vajradaka are generally depicted in either a squatting or seated position with the legs loosely arranged in front. A few examples portray the figure as standing with the right leg bent and the left leg straight. In these cases an added metal structure is placed under the bottom of the figure 'like a small chair or bar stool' which acts as the chimney for the seseme seeds and resulting smoke. (See example 1, example 2, and example 3).

Vajradaka is known to be depicted in painting but very rarely.

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Jeff Watt 8-2001 [updated 8-2012, 5-2017, 1-2020]