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HOME : Asian Art : Art of Tibet : Gilt Bronze Statue of Yab-Yum (Chakrasamvara in Union with Vajravarahi)
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Gilt Bronze Statue of Yab-Yum (Chakrasamvara in Union with Vajravarahi) - CB.930
Origin: Tibet
Circa: 15 th Century AD to 17 th Century AD
Dimensions: 6" (15.2cm) high
Collection: Asian Art
Style: Tibetan Style
Medium: Gilt Bronze


Location: Great Britain
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Description
This sculpture shows a deity in embrace with his consort in a position of sexual union known as Yab-Yum. The Yab-Yum, Tibetan literally "father- mother", is a common symbol in the Buddhist art, especially in Tibet. The deity is sexual union with his consort. The use of sexual union as a symbol of mystical union evolved from Indian Tantric thought. This union image is not an example of erotic art, but is a manifestation of the Buddha's highest spiritual essence. The male deity, represents compassion for all beings, which is the natural expression of such wisdom. The goddess, as his consort, represents transcendent wisdom, the direct awareness of reality as the Buddha experienced it and taught it. These figures are frequently worked in the shape of statues or reliefs, or are painted on thangkas. Yab-Yum may also be represented through the aniconic signification of yantra and mandala. The symbolism of union polarity is a central teaching in Tibetan Buddhism. The union is realized by the practitioner as a mystical experience within one's own body. Even in Tibet the Yab-Yum images are not intended for general use but are meant to be viewed only by those who have received proper instruction concerning their esoteric significance.

This magnificent gilt bronze sculpture may be Chakrasamvara united with his consort Vajravarahi in the form of Yab-Yum. Chakrasamvara is one of the most popular deities in Tantric Buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayan regions after the 11th century. He is the primary meditation deity (yidam) of Tibetan Buddhism and is also prominently featured in a number of other traditions. Chakrasamvara can appear in several dozen different forms, from simple to complex and peaceful to wrathful, which makes it necessary to rely on the descriptive literature in the Sanskrit and Tibetan languages to identify his various forms. In Tibetan Buddhist art, Chakrasambara is frequently depicted in ecstatic embrace with Vajravarahi. This elegant statue shows many delicate details. Chakrasamvara has a semi-wrathful face, two hands and legs. He wears the Bodhisattva ornaments such as the decorated crown and beads necklaces. He is also adorned with prominent pendant earrings, beads belt and bracelets. Vajravarahi, Chakrasamvara's consort, holds a skull cup and a flaying knife (kartika). In the iconography of female meditation deities, it is common to find the hooked kartika in her right hand and the skull cup in her left, representing the inseparable union of wisdom and skillful means.

(Reference : Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt. "Yab Yum Iconography and the Role of Women in Tibetan Tantric Buddhism." The Tibet Journal 22:1 (Spring 1997): 12-34; John Huntington & Dina Bangdel. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art. Columbus; Chicago: Columbus Museum of Art & Serindia Publications, 2004.) -MK
- (CB.930)

 

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