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Exhibitions/ Art Object

Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi

Malla period
Distemper on cotton
Image: 28 x 24 in. (71.1 x 61 cm)
Credit Line:
Zimmerman Family Collection, Purchase, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation Fund, 2012
Accession Number:
Not on view
The twelve-armed Chakrasamvara embracing his consort, Vajravarahi, is a highly charged vision by an advanced tantric master. 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 hands he grasps Vajravarahi and holds a bell and a thunder bolt. Chakrasamvara is associated with both Heruka and Hevajra, and his 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 tantrism of medieval eastern India. Here Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi trample a blue Bhairava and a red Kalartri, showing their dominance over these Hindu gods.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Tibetan and Nepalese Art: Recent Acquisitions," September 17, 2013–February 2, 2014.

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