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Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description With her youthful body poised in energetic dance, the goddess and Buddha Vajravarahi projects an image of idealized female beauty. The face of the female pig ("varahi") that emerges from the side of her head, however, signals her fierce nature, as do her garland of severed heads and her girdle made of bone. In the shrine for which this figure was made, the sculpture would have also included a corpse lying beneath Vajravarahi’s feet, a blood-filled skull-bowl in her left hand, a curved knife in her right hand, and a tantric staff crowned with skulls and a trident in the crook of her left arm. Through these threatening attributes, considered impure from a mainstream point of view, Vajravarahi transcends taboo, challenging ordinary habits of perception. The enlightened mind recognizes such appearances as an illusion, according to Buddhist thought, and to her devotees Vajravarahi embodies enlightenment itself. Vajravarahi is a form of Vajrayogini, a prominent goddess and female Buddha who has many forms.
Date Description Narrative
11/01/2016Treatmentexamined for exhibition; media consolidation
  • Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong. 2001-2003.
  • Ferocious Beauty: Wrathful Deities from Tibet and Nepal. 2016-2017.
Provenance Peter Burleigh [diplomat in Nepal], Washington, D.C.; purchased by John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore, November 1985.
Credit Promised gift of John and Berthe Ford

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15th century
unfired clay, metal armature, paint, reverse-painted glass, and white metal leaf
Accession Number
H: 40 1/4 × W: 21 1/2 × D with mount: 22 in. (102.24 × 54.61 × 55.88 cm)
  • Nepal (Place of Origin)


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