Goddess Vajravarahi

Goddess Vajravarahi

c. 1040-c. 1310

Unbaked clay and pigment

Overall: 63.5 cm (25 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1964.103


This powerful red goddess raises one hand that would have held a flaying knife, while the other once held a skull cup. Her bone skirt and garland of freshly severed heads complement the skulls that adorn her crown. Her eyes bulge, her brow furrows, and she bares her teeth. These attributes communicate her ability to assist her followers in overcoming passions, ignorance, and fear.

The wooden post is an original part of this sculpture, a rare example that survives in polychromed clay. The clay was mixed with straw and sculpted around an iron armature; rope strings were used under the clay to build up her ornaments, which were then painted.

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