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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Vashya-Vajravarahi (dancing goddess with boar head)

Photo: Paul Macapia

Vashya-Vajravarahi (dancing goddess with boar head)

late 14th to early 15th century

The pantheon of Tibetan Buddhism (also called Vajrayana) is enormous and complicated. Each form of each being can be identified by distinctive physical characteristics. This goddess’s bulging eyes, corpse base, and regalia of bones and severed heads place her as one of Vajrayana’s many fierce protectors. The pig head sticking out from her right ear identifies her as Vajravarahi. The sculpture was once part of a great gilded stupa or other shrine around the huge monastery of Densatil, built between the 1270s and the 1430s and destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76).
Gilded copper alloy with semi-precious stones
14 x 9 3/8 x 5 3/4 in. (35.56 x 23.81 x 14.61 cm)
Overall h.: 49.53 cm
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: [William H. Wolff, Inc., New York, NY]; purchased from gallery by Seattle Art Museum, October 1969, accessioned 1970
Photo: Paul Macapia
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, The Asia Society, Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery Golden Visions of Densatil
February 19 - May 18, 2014

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Going For Gold, November 3, 2012 - December 8, 2013

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, "Discovering Buddhist Art - Seeking the Sublime," July 9, 2003 - June 3, 2005

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "50 Years: A Legacy of Asian Art ," June 30, 1983 - May 30, 1984

New York, New York, Asia House Gallery, "The Art of Tibet," 1969 (circuit: Washington, DC, National Collection of Fine Arts; Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum)

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesCzaja, Olaf and Adriana Proser, editors, Golden Visions of Densatil, A Tibetian Buddhist Monastery; Asia Society Museum, 2014, pg 166, cat. no 43.

von Schroeder, Ulrich. "Indo-Tibetan Bronzes." Hong Kong: Vishual Dharma, 1981, no. 101A.

Trubner, Henry et al. "Asiatic Art in the Seattle Art Museum." Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973, no. 54, illus. (color) p. 121

Pal, Pradapaditya. "The Art of Tibet." New York: Asia Society, 1969, no. 55, pp. 94, 147-148.

Foong, Ping, Xiaojin Wu, and Darielle Mason. "An Asian Art Museum Transformed." Orientations vol. 51, no. 3 (May/June 2020): p. 58, reproduced fig. 18 (installation view).

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