Image of Hevajra.
Bronze, about 1200 AD
Hevajra is one of the yidams (enlightened beings) in Tantric Buddhism.
Hevajra can take several forms. The form with eight heads, sixteen arms, and four legs is Hrdaya Hevajra, the Heart Hevajra. This particular image mixes descriptions of the Hrdaya Hevajra in the Hevajra Tantra and the Samputa Tantra.
Hevajra is depicted as a 16-year-old male, his body black in color. His central face is black, the first on the right is white, the first on the left is red, and the the upper face is smoke-coloured and ugly. The outer two faces on each side are also black. All of his faces have three eyes, and he is crowned with a crossed vajra.
His 16 hands hold sixteen skull cups. His left hands hold deities of wealth (Dhanada), death (Yama), sun (Surya or Aditya), moon (Chandra), fire (Agni/Tejas), wind (Vayu), water (Varuna), and earth (Pṛthivi). His right hands hold a bull, lion, human, cat, camel, sheep, horse, and elephant.
Hevajra dances on a corpse which symbolizes ignorance. Dancing around him are eight yogini (female yogis), who function as intercessors between humans and Hevajra.
The head of the Khmer Empire, Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181-1218 AD), placed Hevajra in a prominent position in his temple rituals. He was important to both consecration and as a guardian on the road to the right path.
Hundreds of small bronze images of Hevajra were made, but almost none are in pristine condition. This one was stored in a clay jar that lay in water, which is why it survived intact.