14th century

Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art

As Buddhism developed, the needs of various times and places were met by adding personifications of new ideas and creating new appearances of existing personifications. Vajrasattva is viewed as the Primordial Teacher (Adi-Guru). In tantric practice, to a disciple, one's teacher is the Buddha, and through identification with the teacher, the practitioner attains Buddhahood.Vajrasattva appears not as a humble monk, as did Shakyamuni Buddha in his time on earth, but in a heavenly form. His perfect, supple body sways gracefully at the waist; his round arms are held dancelike; his jewels and sacred threads denote inner and outer purity; and a crown signifies his achievement.The identifying tools, or attributes, of Vajrasattva are a vajra scepter and a bell. In this image, the bell is stilled against his hip, signifying spaciousness and clarity of mind, without attachment to thoughts. This wisdom principle is identified as female.

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  • Title: Vajrasattva
  • Date: 14th century (Early Malla Period)
  • Date Created: 14th century
  • Physical Dimensions: H 6.625 x W 4.75 x D 1.75 in.
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Rubin Museum of Art, C2005.16.10
  • Medium: Gilt copper alloy with pigment
  • Place of Creation: Nepal
  • Exhibition History: Rubin Museum of Art, "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection" (02/06/13 - 01/13/14), Rubin Museum of Art, "From the Land of the Gods: Art of the Kathmandu Valley" (03/14/08 - 02/07/11), Rubin Museum of Art, "What is it? Himalayan Art" (06/05/06 - 11/12/07)


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