Tibetan Bronze Jambhala on Lion (17th-18th Century)
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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Indian Subcontinent: Himalayas: Pre 1800: Item # 1121793
PO Box 480
Bonsall, California 92003
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This bronze figure of Jambhala (also known as Vaisravana) measures about 11.5 inches tall by 9 inches wide by 5 inches in depth (including the bronze lotus mount and lion that it sits on).
He is commonly considered to be the god of wealth and protector of the north, riding on a lion.
A mongoose sits on a lotus under his left foot.
His right hand holds a citron or lemon (a symbol of fertility).
The character of Jambhala or Vaisavana is founded upon the Hindu deity Kubera, but although the Buddhist and Hindu deities share some characteristics, each of them has different functions and associated myths.
Although brought into East Asia as a Buddhist deity, Vaisravana has become a character in folk religion and has acquired an identity that is independent of the Buddhist tradition .
Vaisravana is the guardian of the northern direction, and his home is in the northern quadrant of the topmost tier of the lower half of Mount Sumeru. He is the leader of all the yaksas who dwell on the Sumeru's slopes.
He is often portrayed with a yellow face.
He is also sometimes displayed with a mongoose, often shown ejecting jewels from its mouth.
The mongoose is the enemy of the snake, a symbol of greed or hatred; the ejection of jewels represents generosity.
In Tibet, Vaisravana is considered a worldly dharmapala or protector of the Dharma, a member of the retinue of Ratnasambhava.
He is also known as the King of the North. As guardian of the north, he is often depicted on temple murals outside the main door.
He is also thought of as a god of wealth. As such, he is sometimes portrayed carrying a citron(a type of lemon), the fruit of the jambhara tree, a pun on another name of his, Jambhala . The fruit helps distinguish him iconically from depictions of Kuvera.
He is sometimes represented as corpulent and covered with jewels.
His mount is a snow lion.
This intricate bronze has much of it's original over painting remaining on the faces of both Jambala and his mount. There is a large amount of gilding applied to jeweled portions and accent details. This was a style of decoration that was popular during the later portion of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and also occasionally during the early portion of the Qing Dynasty( 1644-1912).
We estimate this antique bronze to date to the 17th or 18th century, but it may be a bit earlier than that.
This antique bronze is in excellent condition, with one exception. It sits on three mount pins that extend into the sealed lotus base. One of these pins has broken off and is apparently roaming around within the base itself. Sitting on two pins rather than three has had no adverse effect on it's stability whatsoever.