Detail View: The AMICA Library: Vajrasattva

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Southeast Asian; Indonesian
Creator Name-CRT: 
Full view
Creation Date: 
12th-13th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Volcanic stone
Creation Place: 
Indonesia, East Java
H. 41 1/2 in. (105.4 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection

This densely bejeweled stone figure of Vajrasattva illustrates the style of monumental sculpture in East Java during the 12th and 13th centuries. Vajrasattva is seated on a thin lotus pedestal with his right foot placed on his left thigh in a posture of meditation known as sattvaparyanaka. His protruding teeth show this to be one of the ferocious representations of the deity. His left hand holds a lotus that supports a vajra or thunderbolt, while his right hand holds a priest's bell. He wears a full skirtlike garment that is tied with thick bows at both hips, and has an elaborate crown, heavy earrings and armlets, and several necklaces. A sacred thread crosses from his left shoulder to his right leg. Several pendant ribbons flow over his skirt and onto the lotus pedestal from the belt around his hips. The greater bulk of this figure and the rigidity of the posture help date it to the 12th or 13th century.

Two forms of Vajrasattva were worshipped in Indonesia: Vajrasattva as the Adi or primordial Buddha, who is worshipped as the supreme Buddha in certain sects, and Vajrasattva as one of the sixteen vajra-deities. Since images of Buddha Vajrasattva are generally shown with their legs crossed in the posture of meditation called vajraparyanaka, this sculpture would represent Vajrasattva as one of the vajra-deities. Given this iconography, this sculpture may once have been part of a large assembly of stone deities grouped together to form a monumental example of the mandala-based arrangements known from smaller bronze versions found, for instance, at Chandi Reja, Nganjuk, in East Java.

Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 42.
Related Document Description: 
Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd--Part II. New York: Asia Society, 1975, pp. 32, 33.
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