Gilding Arts Studio            

"Opening the Eyes"


Buddhist Art for the 21st Century


Gilt finished in Platinum, 23 karat Red Gold, 18 karat Green Gold, also Fine Gold and Palladium. Turquoise and Coral gemstones represent the jewellery typically worn by the bodhisattva. Formed in copper repoussé, with the hands cast from wax models.



Frame Size 64cm. x 70cm. (25in. x 27in.)


This hand-fabricated copper repoussé sculpture is from the workshop of Chaitya Raj Shakya in Patan, Nepal, with the finishing work, gilding and opening of the eyes from Martin Walker-Watson’s Gilding Arts Studio. Platinum leaf and a variety of colours of gold leaf were laid to produce the gilt finish. It is set with turquoise, coral and lapis lazuli gemstones. The hands of the mudra are cast from wax. The sculpture is mounted on brocade and framed – 63 x 69 cms.


Vajrapāni is extensively represented in Buddhist iconography as one of the three protective deities surrounding the Buddha; Mañjuśrī manifests all the Buddhas' wisdom, Avalokiteśvara manifests all the Buddhas' compassion and Vajrapāni manifests all the Buddhas' power.

Vajrapāni is mentioned in the Pāli Canon, worshiped in the Shaolin Monastery as the patron saint, and in Tibetan Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism as a Bodhisattva. Manifestations of Vajrapāni can also be found in many Buddhist temples in Japan as Dharma protectors. However, the earliest representations of Vajrapāni are from the 2ndcentury in the Hellenistic influenced art of Gandhara that portray him as Hercules. As the wielder of the thunderbolt he is often associated with the Vedic thunder-god Indra but also with Zeus and Jupiter.

Vajrapāni's image contains several key elements: Vajrapāni's expression is wrathful to generate fear in the individual to shake-up one’s dogmatic attitude. The asana or yogic posture is the warrior pose (pratyālīḍha). His loin cloth is made up of the skin of a tiger (which in ancient times showed his fearlessness) and his outstretched right hand brandishes a vajra, a thunderbolt, symbolizing analytical knowledge that dissolves craving, attachment and delusion. His left hand holds a lasso with which he binds negative thoughts and emotions. Around his neck is a serpent necklace (as a potent guardian) and he wears a skull crown representing the five main afflictions of anger, greed, pride, envy and ignorance, which are conquered and transmuted into the five wisdoms - ultimate reality, discriminating, equalizing, all-accomplishing, and mirror wisdoms. He has a third eye.

Vajrapāni does not to many newcomers to Buddhism look very Buddhist at all, yet he is a Bodhisattva who represents the energy of the enlightened mind completely free of hatred and anger. Those seeing Vajrapāni for the first time may wonder how such a wrathful-looking figure could possibly fit with the peaceful associations they may have with Buddhism, although such figures are actually quite common in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions. Of course it’s not possible to adequately represent the qualities of Enlightenment in any image, and so even the peaceful forms of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are to some extent misleading. Enlightened beings do not, in reality, sit around all day on lotuses smiling serenely. The Buddha himself was fearlessly active in engaging with the other religious figures and philosophers of his day.

Although Vajrapāni is described as “wrathful” it’s important to realize that this does not represent ordinary anger, but simply the power and fearlessness of the awakened mind. There is no place in Buddhist practice for “righteous anger,” and despite his appearance Vajrapāni is a profoundly compassionate figure.

This sculpture is one of a kind and unique. It is currently part of my private collection. Commissioning another similar piece will inevitably be slightly different.

Om Vajrapāni Hum

Repoussé is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side. There are few techniques that offer such diversity of expression while still being relatively economical. Chasing is the opposite technique to repoussé, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece. It is also known as embossing which uses pre-formed dies and punches.

While repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal.There is no loss of metal in the process, as it is stretched and the surface remains continuous. The process is relatively slow, but a maximum of form is achieved, with one continuous surface of sheet metal of essentially the same thickness. Direct contact of the tools used is usually visible in the result, a condition not always apparent in other techniques, where all evidence of the working method is eliminated.

The techniques of repoussé have been used widely since antiquity, with gold and silver for fine detailed work and with copper, tin, and bronze for larger sculptures.






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