Tantric Sculpture of Yama and his Sister Yami

SKU H.048
Circa

19th Century AD to 20th Century AD

Dimensions

12.5″ (31.8cm) high x 8″ (20.3cm) wide

Medium

Bronze

Origin

Nepal

Gallery Location

USA


 

Cast in bronze with a heavy copper tone, this sculpture depicts the Tantric divinity, Yama accompanied by his sister, Yami, on a recumbent bull cowering over a prostrate female. Yama is one of the dharmapala, defenders of the law who are supposed to wage war without mercy against demons and invoke fear in malignant spirits. The wicked are brought before him to be questioned and judged. Yama is generally accompanied by his sister Yami, whose duty is to look after the female culprits. In this sculpture, Yama assumes the varied form of gsang-sgrub and phyi-sgrub, characterized by a bull's head, glass or onyz beaded third eye, and crown of skulls behind which his hair rises in flame shape. He steps to the right on a bull bedecked with garlands of jewels and skulls, and holds a grigrug (chopper) in his right primary hand and a kapala (skull cap) in his left, which is repeated by Yami as well. His secondary arms wave a skull-face mace and lasso. He is naked aside from jewelled belts, bracelets and a tiger-faced skin covering his right knee. His attitude and expression show great excitement and fury. Yama bears a strong resemblance to Yamantaka, a god of wealth who conquered Yama, also referred pejoratively as the god of death. The two divinities are distinguished by certain identifying marks: Yama wears an ornament representing the Buddhist wheel on his chest and is sometimes accompanied by his sister Yami who is not to be confused with sakti, the personification of female energy of a male divinity, shown embracing with legs wrapped around the waist and one arm around the neck (the yab-yum position). Yamantaka, however, often appears in this latter form with his sakti.

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