Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi

Nepal, Kathmandu Valley

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 252

This twelve-armed Chakrasamvara embracing his consort, Vajravarahi, is a highly charged vision by an advanced master of tantric Buddhism. Potent color dynamics add tension to the picture. The blue figure of Chakrasamvara has additional heads in yellow, green, and red (symbolizing the colors of the Jina “Victor” Buddhas). With his principal arms he grasps Vajravarahi and holds a bell and a thunderbolt scepter in each hand. Chakrasamvara’s iconography closely resembles that of Shiva (both have three eyes and hold a skull cup, trident, and elephant skin); such concordance of Buddhist and Hindu iconography has its origins in the tantrism of medieval eastern India. Here, Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi trample a blue Bhairava and a red Kalartri, showing their dominance over these Hindu gods.

Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi, Distemper on cotton, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley

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