Tibet, Virupa (11)

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

15th century, Tibet, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Virupa is seated on a single-lotus base with fat curly petals typical of the Chinese Yongle style (15th century). Apart from the pedestal, there are other elements that point to the work of a Chinese artist in Tibet (i.e. a Sino-Tibetan sculpture).

Mahasiddha Virupa, 15th c., Tibet (Chinese artist), gilt c. or c.a.+pig., close up

His  dhoti is richly embossed (rather than incised) with a linear floral motif.

Mahasiddha Virupa, 15th c., Tibet (Chinese artist?), c.a.+cold gold+pig., face

He wears Chinese-style jewellery, including round earrings with a floral motif (rather than hoops) and a festooned necklace. His eyebrows (and also his moustache and beard) are curly.

17th century, same as before, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

17th century, same as before, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This is a very similar but obviously more recent work, with a few variants (and with the gilding intact).

Mahasiddha Virupa, 17th c., Tibet (Chinese artist?), gilt c.a.+cold g, face

The beard has been painted black and the eyebrows, eyes and eyelashes in a lighter blue than the hair (traditionally painted with lapis lazuli powder). He seems to have no moustache or urna.

Mahasiddha Virupa, 17th c., Tibet (Chinese artist?), gilt c.a.+cold g.+pig., dhoti

His loin cloth and jewellery are very similar.

A reader who sent me a kind message reminded me of an impressive sculpture of Virupa at the Victoria & Albert Museum which I was not going to include in this blog because it  doesn’t cover works made outside the Himalayan area (unless they are of specific interest). Out of courtesy, and because it is always useful to make comparisons, here is the sculpture in question, and another thought to have been made in China.

15th century, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (UK).

15th century, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (UK).

We can appreciate major iconographic differences between this image of Virupa and those we have seen previously. The head of the antelope skin is given prominence, his loin cloth reaches below the knee and is richly embossed/overlaid with minute flowers all over, the  back end of the garment is neatly arranged over the edge of the base, he wears a garland of acorns and a matching necklace with acorn pendants made to look like tassles. His left arm was broken and replaced, the new arm shows him holding a (missing object) in his fist instead of pointing to the Sun. The right hand holds a (missing) skull cup.

15th c., China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt c.a., antelope skin, curly beard, skull cup+other object missing, face

His hair, beard and moustache are fashioned like the conical (snail-like) hair curls of a buddha.

15th c., China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt c.a., antelope skin, curly beard, skull cup+other object missing, detail

His meditation belt is embossed/overlaid, his loin cloth is richly decorated with an embossed floral pattern,  the fastener is decorated with tassles.

Undated, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy and stones, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, China, Mahasiddha Virupa, gilt copper alloy and stones, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Still seated on an animal skin, over a Yongle-style single-lotus base similar to the 15th century ones above – more rectangular and with the legs of the animal hanging at each corner- Virupa also wears the same type of jewellery and loin cloth.

 

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