Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, copper alloy with cold gold, pigments and stone inlay, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Naropa is seated on a human hide, one foot resting on a lotus flower attached to the base. He wears a short dhoti and is adorned with jewellery (including a Chinese-style necklace that helps date the piece, along with the style of the lotus base). He holds a skull cup in his left hand and does the vitarka mudra with the other. There is a large container with a lid topped with a lotus bud finial next to him. His face is painted with cold gold and pigments, the hair is painted with lapis lazuli powder. His chignon is topped with a gold jewel, a few loose strands curl up at shoulder level, a five-flower tiara completes his headdress. (We shall see a very similar sculpture of another mahasiddha in a future post).

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Naropa is seen here holding a human hide across his back.

Mahasiddha Naropa, Tibet, 15th-16th c., close up

He is adorned with a small crown with flowers and bows, some jewellery and a cross belt. There is a raised urna on his forehead.

17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, copper alloy, at the Dallas Museum of Art (USA).

17th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, copper alloy, at the Dallas Museum of Art (USA).

On this fairly similar sculpture, the Indian adept is seated on a tiger skin, on an unusual Pala-style lotus base with an incised lower part and some legs. He is adorned with floral jewellery and a cross-belt and holds his hands in the dharmacakra mudra. There is a silver-inlaid urna on his forehead.

18th century circa, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, gilt copper alloy, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

18th century circa, Tibet, Mahasiddha Naropa, gilt copper alloy and pigments, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

This depicts the mahasiddha seated on a tiger skin over a double cushion, his legs loosely folded, holding a human hide across his back. He is adorned with beaded jewellery, a cross-belt and a floral tiara. The rich gilding and the facial features correspond to the Nepalese style but the cross-belt is of Chinese origin.

15th century, Tibet, Naropa as abbot of Nalanda, brass, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, Naropa as abbot of Nalanda, brass, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

An inscription on the reverse of the base identifies this character as Naropa (born Abhayakirti) when he was abbot of Nalanda.

Mahasiddha Naropa, Tibet, 15th c., as Abhayakirti, brass, close up

His robe is incised with the eight auspicious symbols, his vest and lips are inlaid with copper, his eyes, hair and beard with silver.

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