Vajravarahi, the "thunderbolt boar," is the Wisdom belonging to the identification deity Chakrasamvara. She is said to have initiated some of the mahasiddhas (legendary meditation masters with magical abilities). The sow's head sticking out from behind her right ear is a reminder that some of the Wisdoms have ties with the wild and the inexplicable. Originally, she held a chopper in her raised right hand, a skull cup in her left, and a staff in the crook of her left arm. The blood in the skull cups of identification deities and their partners became associated with the promise of the attainment of bliss. (Spiritual attainments are symbolized by bodily elements in order to indicate that in the course of meditation the mortal body is replaced by a spiritual one.) This extraordinary sculpture originally served as the principal image in a shrine in Nepal. Old sculptures are usually discarded when new ones are installed.


  • Title: Vajravarahi
  • Date Created: ca. 1400
  • Physical Dimensions: w53.34 x h104.14 x d29.21 cm
  • Type: sculpture
  • Rights: Promised gift of John and Berthe Ford, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: unfired clay modeled over metal armature, with polychrome
  • Provenance: Peter Burleigh [diplomat in Nepal], Washington, D.C. [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore, November 1985, by purchase.
  • Place of Origin: Nepal
  • ExhibitionHistory: Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham. 2001-2003
  • Artist: Nepalese

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