Catalog 101.
Zanabazar (1635-1723), late 17th century
Gilt bronze with colors
H: 21 1/2" (54.5 cm)
Diam.: 13 1/4" (33.8 cm)
Choijin-Lama Temple Museum

Sitasamvara (White Samvara) is a benevolent form of the popular tutelary divinity, shown here embracing his consort, Vajravarahi. In the symbolism of this tantric Buddhist practice, the male represents active compassion and the female wisdom, whose union is necessary for enlightenment. Sitasamvara holds two jars containing the elixir of immortality.

The complex, symmetrical, and harmonious program of this work is realized only when the sculpture is viewed in the round: Vajravarahi's arms are crossed in the same gesture as her consort, and her feet create a symmetrical shape that frames the chakra at his waist. At once sensual and transcendent, the piece is a supreme success as both an orthodox and a personalized work. The sculpture is also a triumph of complex multipart casting. The god's lotus base and folded legs were cast in one piece. His torso and his consort were made together or separately. The attributes were cast separately.

Copyright © 1995 Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and Apple Computer, Inc.