Copper with traces of gilt
Overall: 17.8 cm (7 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1982.52
One of the earliest surviving tantric sculptures, this figure of Vajrapani—"he who holds the lightning bolt"—places his hand on a vajra, a thunder bolt symbol that refers to the lightning speed with which practitioners may achieve enlightenment when they follow tantric techniques. The prongs of the lightning bolt are in his hair; his arms are crossed, and a knotted snake is slung around his hips. Vajrapani's elaborate hairstyle, along with the gentle articulation of the cloth, subtly swaying postures, and introspective expressions are close derivations from 5th-century models, thereby implying an early date for the bronze.
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