QING, CIRCA 18TH CENTURY Distemper on cloth. Himalayan Art Resources item no.4484 Image: 64.5 x 44 cm (25 3/8 x 17 3/8 in.); With silks: 105 x 60 cm (41 3/8 x 23 5/8 in.)
清 約十八世紀 大威德金剛唐卡
The energetic composition depicts Vajrabhairava, one of the most popular tantric deities during the Qing dynasty. He is a wrathful manifestation of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, and one of the principal meditational deities for all major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. While Vajrabhairava's nine heads can be arranged in several ways, here the "circular" format – with seven heads on the first row and the remaining two stacked above – follows an iconographic program commonly adopted by the Gelug school.
Vajrabhairava and his consort are surrounded by a retinue of twelve couples and Vajradhara at the top center of the composition. The flames and jewelry is a stylistically reminiscent of paintings done in the Yonghegong style, such as another Vajrabhairava thangka sold at Bonhams, New York, 19 March 2021, lot 371. Also see two examples published in Qi, Beautiful Thangka Paintings in Yonghegong, Beijing, 2001, pp.82 & 88.