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Deities and Devotion in Mongolian Buddhist Art

Vajrasattva with His Consort
19th century
Pigments on sized cloth
32.4 x 26.3 cm.

Hope College Collection, 2018.32

Vajrasattva is a manifestation of the primordial Vajradhara Buddha. He is often shown seated in yab-yum embrace with his consort Vajrasattvika to represent the perfect union of wisdom and compassion. Vajrasattva is portrayed here with white skin and a third eye in the middle of his forehead. He wears a silk skirt and scarf along with a gold crown and various pieces of gold jewelry. His hands hold a gold vajra scepter and bell. His white-skinned consort also wears fine silk clothing and abundant gold jewelry. Her upraised hands hold a ritual flaying knife and a skull-cup brimming with blood. Horizontal creases indicate that this painting was once folded into quarters, perhaps to hide it during the Mongolian communist suppression of Buddhism in the 1930s and 40s.

Reference: Meinert, Carmen (ed.). Buddha in the Yurt: Buddhist Art from Mongolia, Volumes 1 & 2. Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2011, pp. 308-309; Himalayan Art Resources. https://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setid=154. Accessed 5/13/2019.