Western Tibet, Amitabha/Amitayus

14th century, Western Tibet, buddha Amitabha, brass with silvern and turquoise inlay, blue pigment, private collection

13th-14th century, Western Tibet, buddha Amitabha/Amitayus, brass with silver, copper and turquoise inlay, blue pigment, photo by Christie’s

The tall chignon, the five-leaf crown with rosettes and ribbons going upwards, the circular panel at the back going from elbow to neck, the ribbons sticking out of each elbow, the neck-line of his transparent top garment are all typical of late 13th-14th century Western Tibet sculptures of dhyani buddhas. The silver, copper and turquoise inlay shows an Indian influence.

Amitabha and Amitayus are two aspects of the same buddha, the latter normally has a bodhisattva appearance and carries a vase of longevity in his hands, whereas Amitabha usually has a buddha appearance and holds a bowl (but there are exceptions). In many cases the vase or the bowl are missing, so if he is adorned with princely attire then we are likely to be looking at Amitayus.

13th-14th century, Western Tibet, buddha Amitabha, brass with silver and copper inlay, blue pigment, private collection

13th-14th century, Western Tibet, buddha Amitabha/Amitayus, brass with silver and copper inlay, blue pigment in hair, photo by Sotheby’s.

14th century, Western Tibet, buddha Amitabha, brass, copper inlaid hem, turquoise, cold gold on face, private collection

14th century, Western Tibet, buddha Amitabha/Amitayus, brass, copper inlaid hem, turquoise, cold gold on face, blue pigment in hair, photo by Koller.

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