Each art object has a meditation above and description below.
Note: Click on photo to see enlarged image (opens in new window).
A small dwelling where the moonlight
leaks in through chinks in the roof can be transformed into a place where love
can abide, if the mind of its master is pure.
1. Stupa. Cast bronze. Plain metal patina. Also known as a Chorten or Caitya. 13th/14th century. 40 cm. (Private collection, London)
It is wrong to think that misfortunes
come from the East or the West; they originate in one’s own mind.
2. Prayer Wheel . Hammered sheet-silver barrel with chain and weight supported on a wooden shaft. 19th century. 24 cm. (Private collection, London)
One must please oneself by seeking
the teachings of Buddha in spite of the conflagration that fills all the
3. Two Phurbas . A polychromed carved wooden Phurba, 19th century. 25 cm. and a combination bronze and copper necromancers phurba with a meteoric iron blade. 13th/14th century. 35 cm. (Private collection, London)
It is foolish to guard against
misfortunes from the external world and leave the inner mind uncontrolled.
4. Rare cast bronze Thokde . See Tibet and its history section and Terms. 4 x 5 cm. Pre-Buddhist period. (Private collection, London)
If a man lives a pure life nothing
can destroy him; If he has conquered ignorance nothing can limit his
5. Scribe's elaborately pierced and cast gilded iron pen-case. From Derge , Tibet where iron casting was perfected to an art. 35 cm. with accompanying large pierced iron seal and two quill pens. 15th century. (Private collection, London)
On life’s journey faith is nourishment.
6. Mala. Human-bone skull discs with two pairs of silver counters and a gold miniature Phurba with a huge ivory finial Citipati bead. The skull-discs are dated approximately as 17th/18th century, the Phurba as pre-10th century and the silver counters as 19th century. The Citipati-bead is 18th century, and a superbly cast bronze Khatvangha . Most likely to have come from a fine bronze cast figure of Padmasambhava . 15th century. 17 cm. (Private collection, London )
To enter into Buddha’s room means to
share his all-embracing great compassion and to have sympathy for every living
7. Collection of 12 small to tiny Vajras or Dorjes. Bronze, varying in age from 8th to 18th centuries, the tiniest being dated as the earliest. 2 cm to 15 cm. A large circular horoscopic Mandala plaque-box containing large amounts of prayers, bone relics, seeds and fragments of cloth from holy people and sights. All permanently sealed behind a copper plate. Hammered sheet brass. 19th century. 35 cm in diameter. (Private collection, London)
To wear Buddha’s clothes means to be
humble and practise endurance; to sit on Buddha’s throne means to see matter as
non-substantial and to have no attachments.
8. Superbly carved wooden head-dress crown. As worn by a Priest or a Necromancer. Each of the five sections depicting an image of the five Dhyani-Buddhas. Traces of gilding. 11th/12th century. Each plaque 10 x 24 cm. (Private collection, London)
Living beings in a dark solitude suddenly find a great relief as they look about and recognise one another.
9. Two amulet boxes or gahu. The smaller circular box contains prayers and a black hematite magic stone with a curious natural eye marking, said to have belonged to an ancient Saint and given to the author by the late Abbot of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa in 1997. [See photo no. 9a] Large silver and gold amulet box containing an early terracotta and human-ash pressed plaque of two pacific deities. The larger box, 19th century. 2l x l5 cm. (Private collection, Sussex, England)
9a. Photograph of the late Abbot of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Holding the prehistoric "Magic Stone” in 1987. (Private collection, Sussex, England)
To live a pure unselfish life one
must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.
10. Damaru of two human skulls. Pre-18th century. A Karttrka cast and forged in iron with silver and gold inlay. 15th century or earlier. 20 cm high. Most likely made in the iron-casting city of Derge. (Private collection, London)
When one has the feeling for the
dislike of evil, when one has this feeling and appreciates it, one is free from
11. Priest's apron. Intricately carved human bones and beads. Each plaque has a carving of a deity with its accompanying acolytes. Mounted on a fabric sash to be worn during various ceremonies. Pre-18th century. Worn around the waist as a skirt and tied behind with a leather cord. (Private collection, London)
Sorrow, fear and bondage come from
one’s likes and dislikes.
12. Plaque from an apron of carved human bones. Exquisite plaque, possibly from a split half of femur. The detail and quality of the carver's art is, as with the previous illustration, a stunning example of the little known craft of human-bone carving. A Tantric deity and a smaller Dakini. Pre-19th century. 4 x l5 cm. (Private collection, London)
Every article entrusted to us must be
used with good care, because it is not “ours” but it only entrusted to us.
13. Large copper teapot with separate removable lid. Part gilded and decorated with plaques of dragons and Buddhist symbols. 19th century. 40 cm high. (Private collection, London)
In the world of learning there is
boundless light and everlasting life. Those who reach this haven will never
return to the world of delusion.
14. Deeply carved wooden book cover. From one of the sacred Buddhist texts. The carvings are of the many manifestations of the Buddha. Pre-12th century. 75 x 25 cm. A page of text with paintings of two historical deities. Pre-15th century. [See section on wood in this book] (Private collection, London)
As the light of a small candle will
spread from one to another in succession, so the light of Buddha’s compassion
will pass on from one mind to another endlessly.
15. Gold Amulet box with inlaid turquoises and rubies. 19th century. 10 x 10 cm. Private collection, London)
Bloodstains cannot be removed by more
16. Human-bone skull cup. Mounted with copper band and lining, with its beaten copper, Vajra-topped lid. Both resting on a Dakini-headed triangular base. (Private collection, London)
am Buddha, touch my words as you begin your journey.”
17. Woven horse blanket/rug. Decorated with Snow Lions playing with their young amid the flyings of Dragons and Phoenixes. 19th century. 134 x 62 cm. (Private collection, Brighton, England)
Follow the sound until it disappears and follow until the ends of time.
18. So-called "Singing Bowl." [See section on Musical Instruments for explanation.] A pair of fine 16th century Dingsha with their fitted silver box. Two ancient human thigh-bone trumpets used by Lamas and Magicians. (Private collection, London)
The only thing that protects and
brings to lasting peace is enlightenment.
19. Rare hardstone carved miniature Stele. Of the Tantric deity Vajrakilaya with his Sakti. Note the Phurba in the deity's right hand. 13th century or earlier. Originally to have been kept in an Amulet box. 10 x 7 cm. Two fine miniature cast silver figures of previous Dalai Lamas. 18th century. 4 cm high. (Private collection, London)
“My lord, as I gain enlightenment I
will not violate the sacred precepts; I will not become angry with anyone.”
20. Sacred silver reliquary amulet box. Containing ancient (9th to 10th century A.D.) copper figure of Vajrapani, wrapped in rolls of prayers, ancient fragments of cloth and other consecrated bits and pieces. The box 18th/19th century and is l4 x 9 cm. (Private collection, London)
Each day is precious,
Each moment divine.
The healing horse,
Heals our damaged souls.
21. Unusual Tibetan Healing Horse. Cast bronze with plain metal patina. Wearing a Prayer-collar. Healing horses were more prevalent in China, and were used to indicate the source of pain in both the human and animal patient. They were used (by rubbing) by childless couples hoping to ensure a pregnancy. Baby horse sculptures are also used in the healing of sick children. 15th/16th century. l2 x 15 cm. (Private collection, London)
I have suffered only what was my
I only wait for my time to come,
But you must step forth towards the
Noble Path and sing.
22. Tshog-Shing Thangka. This brightly painted wall size hanging, has Tsong Khapa as its central deity. He is surrounded by an assemblage of many Tibetan Buddhist divinities in hierarchical order. Late 19th century. (Private collection, London)
Pure silence is often pure
23. Thangka of Yamantaka . A quite rare example of the much more normal multi-coloured Thangkas, in that the entire area is black with gold line drawing and only the heads are punctuated by colour. 75 x l20 cm. 19th century. (Private collection, London)
The time of delusion and suffering
seems long to a man who does not know the right teaching.
24. Crowned Buddha. His hands are in dhyani-mudra. This light metal cast-bronze figure with its amused expression and half aura behind the shoulders, is typical of the later Western Tibetan style of bronze sculpture. 15th/16th century. 35 cm high. (Private collection, London)
Faith softens our hard and selfish
minds and gives us a loving spirit and a mind of understanding compassion.
25. Green Tara. Cast bronze, cold gilded. Hands in Vitarka and Varada mudras. Right foot is resting on small single lotus plinth. 16th century. 12 cm. (Private collection, London)
Just hearing the Buddha’s name, the
sunlight by day, the twinkling stars by night; the traveller constantly
refreshes his spirit.
26. Amoghasidhi, Crowned. Cast and gilded bronze. Right hand in abhaya mudra, left hand in dhyani mudra. A small bowl is missing from the left hand. In front of this seated figure on the ledge beneath the feet, is the impressed monogram of the crossed Vajras (the Visvavajra) a symbol of the above deity. 15th/16th century. 16 cm. (Private collection, London)
Everything changes, everything
appears and disappears. There is perfect tranquility.
27. Green Tara. A Sino-Tibetan example of a cast bronze, highly gilt and excessively decorative with many inlaid turquoise stones. 18th century. 15 cm. (Private collection, London)
I awake as a child from the dark and
reach for the diamond sceptre.
Vajrasattva . Cast bronze
. Natural metal patina. Right hand at
breast level, holds an upright Vajra
, while the left hand holds an ghanta by
his hip. 15th century 8 cm. (Private collection,
Make of yourself a light,
And light the darkness in your own
30. Close up of Vajrasattva , showing the sensitive features of this charming sculpture. This is truly an image bestowed with a timeless beauty.
We spend our lives reaching for stars
and forget that we stand upon a star.
Usnisavijaya . An independent member of the group of feminine
. Cast and gilded bronze
. Three heads, eight arms hold the
following symbols; Capa, Sara, Kalasa
, a Mala
and a Buddha
image. 16th century. 13 cm.
Nothing can part us now, friend. We
are as we were.
Amoghapasa , possibly a rare form. Due to some missing
symbols from the hands, identification is not certain. Cast, and brightly gilded
. Three heads and six arms.
15th century. 14 cm. (Private collection,
33. Side view of Amoghapasa.
I tie heartaches and float without
grief into a thousand years of water.
I light thousands of candles from a
single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being
Manjusri . Cast bronze
with natural metal patina. Showing a
typical early Western Tibetan
style of sculpture. Base missing.
11th/12th century. 15cm. (Private collection,
Before you were born
Who were you?
Were you made from everyone?
Were you the echo before the
Were you the water’s mouth of the
Were you the air eyes of the
Were you the light of all the
Oh yes, you were.
Padmapani Cast bronze
with natural metal patina. Another
example of early Western Tibetan
sculpture. The main figure stands between
two Stupas 11th/12th century. 13 cm. (Private collection,
The lama with a bowl and stick wished
me a safe journey in a prayer of dust.
I was there, touched the sky and came
Padmasambhava . Cast bronze
with natural metal patina Holds a
in his right hand against his breast, and
a skull bowl in his 1eft hand on his lap, a Katvangha
rests against his left shoulder.
15th/16th century. 17 cm. (Private collection,
Keep your mind from greed and you
will keep your behaviour right, your mind pure and your words faithful.
Unidentified deified smiling
Abbot. Cast bronze
, bright natural metal patina with inlaid
strap on robe. Right hand in
Abhaya mudra, left hand in Varada mudra. 15th
century. 15 cm. (Private collection,
“My dear students, this is the end.
In a moment I shall be passing into Nirvana.”
Fifth Dalai-Lama . 1615-1680 A.D. Cast bronze
and part gilded. This representation of
the visionary leader was most likely made soon after his death
in 1680 A.D. Seated in Abbot’s robes on a
splendid cushion, his wisdom and compassion
still seems able to communicate. Late
17th century. 20 cm. (Private collection,
“After my death, the Dharma shall be
Deified Personage. Possibly Asvaghosa, the fifth century A.D.
teacher, thought by many to be the father of Mahayanist Buddhism
. He wrote a much revered book on the
's life. Cast bronze
. 15th century or later. 15 cm.
For it in the nature of Buddhahood to
Mahasiddha. Possibly Goraksa (protector of the herd). Cast
and gilded. Seated on a base of lost
souls. His hands are joined in Dhyani mudra. 13th/14th
century. 12 cm. (Private collection,
41. Mahasiddha. A side view of this magnificent natural sculpture.
The seeker trains himself to avoid
anger and wishes that all people might love another.
Unidentified historical personage. Cast bronze
. Natural metal patina. Engraved round the
base with Tibetan
script, “Hail to the victorious banner,
Parjong Tsultim”. Inlaid silver eyes. Holds right hand in Abhaya mudra at breast while left hand holds a
. 14th century. 13 cm. (Private
Just as rain falls on all vegetation
so compassion extends equally to all people. Enlightenment appears as the light
of wisdom that awakens people into the newness of life.
Mahasiddha. Possibly Virupa. Cast bronze. Dark metal patina. Right hand raised in Vitarka
mudra, while left hand resting on his knee, holds a lotus flower in a bowl.
15th century. 13 cm. (Private collection,
44. Side view of this jovial Mahasiddha.
Create an opportunity to turn poison
into nectar and violence into sweetness.
A saviour of knowledge. A form of Vajrapani
. This superb figure is a cast
with natural metal patina. His
outstretched right hand holds a Khadga, while his left hand holds a Lotus
stem. 11th century
46. Acala. A rear view showing the flowing movement of this sculpture.
All self-centred life is suffering.
Hatreds never cease by hatreds in this world, by love alone they cease. This is
an ancient law.
Vajrapani. Massive looking cast bronze
with a natural dark patina. A provincial
piece. This Vajrapani is also iconographically unusual, in that a standing
bird rests with outstretched wings
between the legs of the main deity. Vajrapani and the Garuda are both standing
on coiled snake monsters. His right hand holds a Vajra
, his left hand is held in Vitarka mudra.
14th/15th century. 16 cm. (Private collection,
Does one ever dare to see what one
is? One has become what one wants to be.
Samvara . A protective deity, one of the Yi-dam. In
Yab-Yam with his Sakti
. Cast and gilded bronze
with separately affixed carved wooden
mandorla. A variety of symbols and attributes are held; a Damaru, a
, a Vajra
, a Ghanta
and a Danda
. 14th century or later. 12 cm
overall. (Private collection
Nirvana is not a state of being of an
entity, but a moment of experiencing. In that moment there is no memory and no
desire, no past and no future.
Mahakala . One of the Dharmapala
. A cast and part gilded painted
. A magnificent example of the
sculptural tradition. The four faced
ferocious god guardian has four arms that hold a Khadga, a Karttrka
, a skull bowl, a Kalasa
and a spear-banner. He stands on a
vanquished demon. 16th century. 16 cm. (Private collection,
Fear travels on a structure, on a
dream, from soul to soul, a descending star, lonely and immense, blown towards
us from an unknown space, on a dark wind, subdued and gradual.
Mahakala . A powerful provincial example of this guardian
figure. Cast bronze
and dark metal patina. Attributes are
missing, but the threat of this brooding, six legged monster is still potent.
15th century. Including its carved rosewood base the figure is 18 cm.
Nirvana is the only deliverance; the
only freedom surpassing all understanding.
and angry Gurgyi-Gompo. Guardian
and protector of the tent, also recognised as another aspect of Mahakala
. A cast bronze
with dark metal patina. Some attributes,
and its base are missing. 15th century. 30 cm. (Private collection,
52. Gurgyi-Gompo. A rear view of this malevolent figure revealing his jewelled and skull adorned robes.
The moon is often hidden by clouds,
but it is not moved by them and its purity remains untarnished.
Hayagriva . One of the Dharmapala
. Cast bronze
dark metal patina, but painted with part
gilded faces. Three heads, six arms with eight legs, holding various Tantric
attributes. Note the horse's head on top of the deity's head-dress. He stands on
snakes. 16th century. 15 cm. (Private collection,
54. Hayagriva . A side view of this aggressive figure's eight legs, corpulent posture and horse's top-knot.
Though wicked men should be born
beasts or hungry demons or fall into hell, they never lose their
Yamantaka . Also called Bhairava
. One of the Dharmapala
. Cast gilded bronze
in two pieces. The main figure and the
bull-base are separate. This is a sculpture full of joy, a deity relishing his
powers of threat and terror. He holds a Danda
in his right uplifted hand, and stands on
a subjugated bull, who is copulating with a demon-corpse. 17th
century. Sino-Tibet . 18 cm. (Private collection,
56. Yamantaka . A rear view of this imposing sculpture.
Of all the worldly passions, lust is
the most intense. Lust is like a demon that eats up all the good deeds of the
Simhavaktra . A Dakini
. A lion-headed fierce manifestation of
this female deity. Cast bronze
and gilded. This Sino-Tibetan example is missing its original
base. 17th century. The
figure, without the wood
base is 17 cm. high. (Private collection,
Dance with me and proclaim the words
of the Buddha’s song in full voice.
Vajrayogini. Cast copper
and gilded. This Tibetan
figure was most likely made by a Nepalese craftsman. The clues are the
metal, the softer gilding
and the less ferocious and more gentle demeanour of this deity. Her right
hand holds a Vajra
, her left hand holds a skull bowl. She stands on a dead demon. 15th century. 18
cm. (Private collection,