Western Tibet, standing Manjushri

13th century circa, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy and pigment, published by Ian Alsop

13th-14th century, Western Tibet, bodhisattva Manjushri, copper alloy and pigment, published by Ian Alsop

Between the 12th and the 13th century, some Western Tibet workshops produced statues of bodhisattvas represented in a naive style, with unrealistic, doll-like bodies, wearing simple jewellery and short dhoties with one leg longer than the other, like the one above. The small size of the statues (10-15 cm app.) and the softness of the metal may explain why details were incised rather than sculpted. Manjushri holds a sword in his right hand. His other attribute, a lotus flower topped with a manuscript has disappeared from his left hand. His very tall headdress is unusual, perhaps even unique. Many details on this statue are incised, sometimes elaborately, rather than sculpted, including his toes.

Manjushri, Tibet, undated, bronze, 11 cm

This small (11 cm) undated statue from a private collection also came from Western Tibet  and is even more schematic, yet, the upper half of the statue required a certain amount of work .

Manjushri holds an incised sword in one hand and a manuscript in the other. His barely visible dhoti is long and even. The legs are soldered together and the toes are barely incised. He wears some unusual armbands which are well represented, like his hands.

13th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, bronze with cold gold, at the Basel Museum

13th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, bronze with cold gold, at the Basel Museum der Kulturen (see on Himalayan Art Resources website)

Unlike the previous two, this (bigger) figure is sculpted throughout and its body shape and proportions are realistic (nipples included). The face is painted with cold gold. He carries a sword and a lotus. His crown, with a buddha in the middle, is secured with large ribbons flowing upwards and decorated with rosettes, in the pure West Tibetan fashion. He wears a long and even dhoti toped with a transparent garment that looks rather like a skirt and fastened with a belt. He wears simple jewellery, including anklets. His thin facial features correspond to the Indian style.

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